But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.
What a day! Admittedly, 10 days have passed since the original transportation fiasco. In all honesty, I was probably due some crazy thing just because things’ve gone so smoothly of late. First, and minorly, I forgot the power cable to my computer, which meant I had 3 hours and 26 minutes of work before it completely ran out of juice. That, I figured, would work fine since I had to read more of my thrilling Mitcham History and also review the Non-Designer’s Design Book to create a handout of design tips to leave with my sponsors because I can’t design for every conceivable need. So I used the computer until about 2:00, when a little bubble popped up and informed me that my data would be lost if I didn’t recharge the battery soon. Then I figured it wouldn’t hurt to do something else, so I finished my work and read Mitcham Histories.
The odd thing about today is that, as a Thursday, we eat dinner with our advisor at 6:00. Now, his flat is between halfway and all the way across London from Commonside, so although I had found a roundabout way of getting there, I figured I’d ask the ladies at Commonside for some advice. They recommended taking the 152 to two stops past the South Wimbledon station, then following a map they sketched for me to the Wimbledon tube station, which I could ride in an almost direct shot to John’s flat. I, feeling adventrous, thought it couldn’t hurt to try going the straight way rather than the known way.
To that end I caught the 152 and watched. And waited. And looked for the South Wimbledon tube stop. And rode. It was hot; today got into the 70’s and tomorrow they expect to reach the 80’s – temperatures that start causing tube signal failures, actually, so the tubes don’t run reliably during hot weather. I kept going and we passed one landmark, a huge grocery store, but I just didn’t see the South Wimbledon tube station. I kept looking. People got on and off. Time passed and suddenly I had this feeling I’d completely missed it. But I stayed on, thinking it would be better to do that than randomly get off and be totally lost. I craned my neck and anxiously felt the butterflies turning into dragons in my stomach. What if I missed the stop? I kept thinking. This strange sense of despairing panic kept almost gripping me and I kept pushing it down. Worst case, I would ride the same bus back again. People got on and off; a greasy-haired man with horrible dandruff sat next to me. The doors openened and closed. We passed through sleazy parts and nice parts of Merton. I got the not-so-grand tour of that whole part of the borough. Sure enough, after about an hour and a half on that bus (which I employed usefully by reading more Mitcham History) the bus swung into a pullout and shut down. We’d reached the end of the line and I had completely failed to notice the South Wimbledon tube station, thus causing me to miss my stop, problems ad infinitum.
As the bus stopped I went to the bus driver and asked; he confirmed that I should have gotten off around 3:45. Sob! My heart, as you can imagine, had already sunk because by then it was 4:15; I began longing for the well-labeled, well-mapped tubes. Thankfully the wonderful bus driver told me that bus 131 would take me from the stop I unhappily found myself at straight, albeit slowly, to the Wimbledon tube stop. I alighted from the 152 feeling quite dejected and annoyed with myself; what a clumsy American I am when it comes to public transportation! How could I miss a whole tube stop? I read every bus stop sign and it was never listed there that I saw; but I kept a small sense of humor alive. How ironic, to try to go the straighter faster way but end up meandering all around Merton for over an hour! Thankfully the 131 did pull up about 20 minutes after I disembarked from the fateful 152 with its incredibly nice driver (who in addition to suggesting the 131 actually got off the bus, talked to another bus driver, and checked the schedule, all to help me find my way to Wimbledon), and I rode that without mishap to Wimbledon. The District line took me to within one tube stop of John’s; I caught the Bakerloo that one stop, and arrived at his flat 25 minutes before 6:00 thirsty, hot, and desperately in need of a bathroom. I drink a lot of water while I’m here to replace lunch.
The big difference between this totally-lost bus riding experience (did I mention I’m really coming to loathe the busses?) and the previous one: I didn’t panic, and I didn’t despair. At times I found my predicament slightly amusing. Granted, I didn’t have fun, but I accepted my ineptitude, dealt with it, and took two and a half hours to get from Commonside to John’s flat. It was not ideal, but okay. Life’s not ideal, and from now on I’m avoiding busses as much as I possibly can, darn it all!