After a few days of using the Metro to get around Pasadena and Downtown LA, I contemplated taking the bus to and from work. I used the Metro Trip Planner but because of JPL and the Arroyo Seco’s placement between my home in Altadena and my workplace in La Crescenta, there was no real easy way to get to work. The shortest trip would be 1 hour and 40 minutes. I would have to get up super early in order to get to work on time. Considering I am not a morning person, I figured I could survive with the 20 minute car ride back and forth to work. Yes, gas prices here in California are the highest in the country but I figured if I just used my car to commute to work and my bike and the Metro for traveling elsewhere, I wouldn’t go bankrupt trying to fill my gas tank.
But the Universe intervened. I think someone somewhere really, really wanted me to attempt taking the bus to work on the 10th. I woke up late and when I discovered a few issues with my car, I figured I would just take the bus. The 1st period of the day was my prep period so if I left right away, I would make it to work with 30 minutes to spare before my next class. I had no clue as to what the Universe really had in store for me.
I printed out the trip planner route to get myself to work. It was a 1 hour and 40 minute trip that had me going south into Pasadena, West through Pasadena, Eagle Rock and Glendale then North from Glendale to La Crescenta. Then I would have to just hike up the hill to school. My first group of students wouldn’t be in my classroom until 9:50am so if I left at 7:30am I could make this work. It is really funny looking back at how optimistic and naive it was to think that the trip planner was accurate and everything would go according to plan.
I didn’t really take into consideration as to how long it would take me to actually walk to the bus stop. I was walking down the street with the bus stop in sight. I managed to watch as my bus pulled up and left exactly one minute before I arrived at the stop. (I was too sore to run from my 3 mile hikes home from the train). But I remained calm. I remember when I lived by USC in downtown Los Angeles that the buses would show up every 15 minutes during the morning and evening rush hours. So I pulled out my phone and clicked on my handy dandy “Go Metro” app. The next bus would be arriving at 8am. I started to panic then reminded myself that it was only a 1 hour and 40 minute trip so I would arrive in La Crescenta at 9:40am and I would still have 10 minutes to hike up the hill. Everything would be fine.
The bus arrived at the stop at 8am. I watched as the passengers departed but when I tried to board, they told me it wasn’t time yet and they pointed to the sign that said “Layover.” What?! They closed the doors and for 15 minutes, the bus driver and a co-worker sat on the bus chatting for 15 minutes. At 8:15am, they finally opened the doors and let us board. OK, I was getting stressed now. As soon as I was on board the bus, I used my phone to email the secretaries at work, telling them about my situation and that I might be a few minutes late. I would need someone to let the students in the classroom and wait for them until I hiked up the hill. One of the secretaries told me to just call when my bus arrived on foothill in La Crescenta and she would send someone down to pick me up so I wouldn’t be too late. So I started to feel a little bit better and of course my Libra optimism kicked in. Maybe the trip planner was over compensating for time. When I took the bus the other day, they didn’t have to stop at all of the stops so we arrived early. So maybe the odds will be in my favor again and everything will work out just fine. (Famous last mental words to self).
With the high gas prices, it seems that everyone is trying to save money and take the Metro to work. We stopped at every single bus stop. I kept checking my Metro app and it kept adding more and more time to my trip. But I tried to stay calm. I was doing my best to pay attention to the streets (some buses announce each stop and others do not, this was a bus that didn’t announce the stops). At each stop, I noticed that my next bus that would take me into Glendale (780 Rapid Metro) had the same stops as my current bus so I really could get off at any of these stops and just catch my next bus there. But I thought it would be best to follow the directions given to me by the Metro Trip Planner. (I should have listened to my own gut instinct).
I was just concentrating on getting off at Colorado and Fair Oaks to catch the 780 there–just like Trip Planner said. Of course, this was my first trip on my current bus 686 so I had no idea that it actually turned down Fair Oaks and I would have to walk back to Colorado to catch the 780. The 686 bus got into the left turn lane. I could see my bus stop on the Northwest corner of Fair Oaks and Colorado. I could see the 780 drive past us, stop to pick up passengers and head off toward Glendale all the while the 686 bus was still in the left turn lane. AHHHHHHHH!
The 780 bus had been right behind us. If I had gotten off at the previous stop, I would have made my connection but alas, that was not in the cards for me that day.
So I got off the bus, pulled out my phone and checked the Metro app. The next 780 bus wouldn’t arrive for another 20 minutes. AHHHHHH! There was nothing I could do. I sat on the bench, pulled out my ipod, set it for shuffle and hoped the music would calm me. But no, the Universe wanted to mess with me a bit more. Of all the songs on my ipod, the shuffle had to pick the triad of songs that the Universe used a year ago to remind me of Big (Adele “Rolling in the Deep,” Justin Timberlake “What Goes Around,” and Linkin Park “Waiting for the End”). REALLY?! REALLY?! The guy on the bench next to be decided to get up and stand as far away from me as he could. I was really shouting “Really?!” instead of saying it in my head, like I thought I was doing. I scared him.
So the bus finally arrives and for some reason, I kept telling myself that I had to get off at the Colorado and Broadway stop. But when we reached Colorado and Broadway and I requested the next stop, the bus didn’t stop. It kept going until it reached Glendale High School. So I started to think that maybe I requested the stop too late so that is why the bus driver didn’t stop. But I also didn’t notice an actual stop either. So I got off at Glendale High School and looked at the sign. I didn’t see any indication that I could catch my next bus in this area. I needed to catch the 90 to La Crescenta. So again, I pulled out my phone and checked the Metro app. I was supposed to get off at Broadway and Glendale Ave, not Broadway and Colorado. CRAP!
There was a young girl sitting there and I asked her if the 180 bus stopped at Glendale Ave. She said yes. I looked at the Metro app and it said it would be another 15 minutes before the 180 bus arrived. I figured I could just walk Glendale in that time and once again I was saying out loud what I was thinking. She told me I should just wait because the bus was right behind me. Thank God!
So now I was on the 180 bus (Thank God for my all day Metro TAP pass). I got off at Glendale Avenue and found the stop for the 90 bus. I sat down on the bench and emailed the secretaries to give them an update. It was now after 9am and according to the Metro app, I had another 50 minutes until I reached La Crescenta. The weather was finally cooler but I was sweating from all the confusion that I had endured over the past hour and a half.
The 90 finally arrived and I just sat back, succumbing to my circumstances. There was nothing I could do but just sit back and wait until I reached my final stop.
I called the school secretary as soon as I got off the bus. She was coming down to pick me up. I decided I would just start to make my way up the hill anyways. But my legs were sore from previous adventures and hikes. The hill up to my school is steep and my calves were on fire with each step. But I urge myself to keep moving. The secretary finally pulled up and drove me to the front of the school. I had another small hill to conquer before reaching my classroom. It was 10:10am (again, cosmic joke on me) when I finally walked into my classroom.
So if I had actually made it in time for the first bus, (and the other connections), I would have arrived at work at 9:10am. But no, my first trip via Metro bus had me arriving an hour later. With our school’s block scheduling and my prep period being the first block on even days, I only missed 20 minutes of my 4th period class. But if I want to take the Metro on an odd day (and factoring in time for any mishaps), I would have to take the 5:30am bus to make it to work by 7:30am. That is never going to happen so I guess it is safe to say that this was my first and last trip to work using the Metro as my mode of transportation.