When you’re a writer and go through misery, and later write it down because you’re so awful effen mad and sick about it all, it becomes something more. Something kind of funny that you can look back on and say, thank God I don’t have to live through that again. It also becomes story fodder.
This is one my personal favorites. Seventy-five minutes of my life, over two years ago when I used to depend on public transportation to get to work and back home again. My days were twelve hours long. This day was almost fourteen hours long.
Because she had to pee. (No, wait. Because Keanu Reeves was on the other side of it, waiting for her in a soft gray stretch limo.)
So okay, her bus was half an hour late. And she’d decided to call a cab, but she wanted to do it back inside the building where she worked because the road was loud with traffic, making cell phone conversation about as much fun as getting an uncoated aspirin stuck in your throat. Why not re-enter the building, place the call for a cab, then pee?
Only the door was locked. So she made the call on a full bladder, with one finger in her ear to try and block out raging traffic sounds. Just as she’s doing this, the bus–her bus–comes roaring up to the intersection. The bus is on the other side of a six-lane road and the light is green. It barely slows down. And then poof, it’s gone.
She laughs, but she still has to pee so it’s not really that funny.
She spies Frenchy inside the building and knocks on the side door. He knows her. He’ll let her in, even if it is after hours and dark outside. Theoretically he could smirk, shake his head at her, and she’d have to live with so sad, your dad, but she’s wearing the black Captain and Tennille hat and black leather coat, a look that ensures entrance.
Four minutes later, she’s standing back in front of the building, awaiting her knight in yellow metal. Meanwhile, she yaks on her cell phone. Ten minutes go by. She wonders where her cab is and as the minutes pass, the thought becomes all-consuming, overriding thoughts of wine, the cold and food. She tries not to think about her friend’s friend who was recently been mugged.
Fifteen minutes after that, Hoosier girl calls the cab company again and learns that they canceled her cab because the cab driver didn’t see her standing where she said she would be and because he couldn’t reach her by phone. For whatever reason, there was no beep of interruption to let her know someone else was trying to get through. If the cabbie even tried to call her. She has her doubts. Actually, in a world gone awry, she’s aswarm with them.
Hoosier girl begins walking back to the bus stop because it’s almost time for the next bus and she figures she might as well take that bus since Fate’s decided kicking back in a cab isn’t going to happen. She’s halfway back to the bus stop when the next bus roars up to the intersection, five minutes early.
Run? Scream? Laugh? Cry? Pee?
These thoughts go through her brain as the bus squeals to a stop. For three heartbeats it stays there and the anticipation is heavy, like just before you climax. Then the light turns green, the bus rounds the corner and that’s that.
This is not fiction. This is her life.