a broken down bus, an opera singer, and a $240 Uber ride.

On Friday, I hopped onto a Bolt bus from Philly to New York to visit my mom.

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(This is my mom! She’s great!)

I should have known that time and the universe were not on my side when the usually 20-minute ride to Cherry Hill, NJ, to pick up the remaining passengers, took 45 minutes thanks to the Friday night rush hour. I was a little annoyed, but whatever, I was going to see my mom. I was excited and remained optimistic. Come 6 PM, when we were supposed to arrive at our destination, we were stuck on the NJ Turnpike still about an hour outside of Manhattan… and we BROKE. DOWN.

The bus just… stopped running. Our, bless her heart, very sweet driver, said “my bus cut out on me. I’m going to try to regenerate it.” I understood what she meant, but who did she think she was, the Doctor?

After multiple admittedly scary attempts to… “regenerate” (jump) the bus, she said that she just could not get it to start up again and actually stay running, and that there would be another bus coming to save us in half an hour. Some passengers were NOT having it. Almost immediately, people started making plans to split Ubers into the city. The girl next to me casually mentioned that she had an audition to get to (I later learned that she was an opera singer), and asked if I wanted to get an Uber with her. I told her I had no money, and she said it was fine (even though 45 minutes later IN the Uber she asked if I could give her money, so I felt slightly duped, but I digress), and we joined forces with a young couple on vacation from New Delhi, India, to track down an Uber while broken down on the side of the highway. After ages of Opera Girl on the phone with our Uber driver trying to explain to him where exactly we were, he arrived, in a massive six-person car. We piled in, and were able to squeeze in one more person: an old, gay as hell, freelance production coordinator. A minute into this ride, I knew it would be an interesting one. With the Lincoln Tunnel being completely constipated by everyone trying to get into the city for the weekend, we took the long way around, which ended up getting us there faster than the Tunnel would’ve.

20 minutes into this ride, we’re all talking about ourselves and finding things we have in common, and one of my best friends calls me. Now, this friend is not someone who will just call out of the blue. She’s a texter, so I saw her name pop up on my phone and my heart sank, because I just KNEW something was wrong. I pick up, and wouldn’t you know it, she’s sobbing. Personal stuff, that I can’t really discuss in a car full of literal strangers. Anxiety, meet the roof. Go through it.

I promised my friend I would call her as soon as I was in private, and hung up, immediately texting her so she could continue explaining her situation to me. It was at that moment that my knight in shining armor, Opera Girl, asked me if I could take cash out at an ATM or something when we ended the ride to contribute to what turned out to be a $240 trip. What the hell? She said it was fine! I thought that meant it was fine! I mean, I guess in retrospect, I didn’t make it very clear to her that I had literally NO money. Not that I didn’t have cash, but that I didn’t have ANY money. And I had NO MONEY. ZERO DOLLARS. So, anxiety, meet the OZONE LAYER. GO THROUGH IT. Fortunately, my mother is a saint and technology is amazing, so she quickly transferred me enough money to pay for my share of the fare. Okay, anxiety, you can come back down to earth now.

We finally drive into the city. We all agreed to get off at the location designated by OG, since she’s the one who ordered the Uber and she was now over an hour late for her audition, and since her destination was only about 15 blocks from my mom’s place, I wasn’t complaining. My mom, however, found my location through the iPhone “Find My Friends” BIG BROTHER app, saw that I was already only about four blocks away from her, and demanded that I have the driver drop me on her street, which would require him to get off of 12th Avenue and make OG even later for her audition. In one ear, my mom is yelling, in another, OG is slightly-condescendingly trying to explain to me that she’s already an hour late for her audition (I know, OG. I know), and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Anxiety, meet THE DEPTHS OF OUTER SPACE. Meet THE DEATH STAR. Go through it. Go through it all. Say hi to Harrison Ford for me.

I tell my mom not to worry about it. I tell her that I’m just going to get out where OG said and take my own Uber from there. Finally, some peace. My ears stop ringing. Our Uber driver, who turned out to be one of the coolest Uber drivers I have ever had, ended our trip ten blocks early so that we could all give OG our share(s) of the trip. I say it a lot, and I’ll say it again, technology is amazing. In 30 seconds, I sent OG my share of the cost via PayPal, and she received it instantaneously. After I paid, I realized I no longer had any reason to remain in the car until the end of the trip, so at a red light, I said my goodbyes and quickly hopped out. I ordered my own Uber and it pulled up in less than two minutes, and I finally got to my mom’s house. I dropped my 70 pounds worth of stuff on the ground, hugged my mom, hugged my dog, and ate a lot of sushi.

The moral(s) of the story are that A) New York is a weird, WEIRD place, B) people are nice, but not THAT nice, and C) if you ever have the opportunity to share an Uber ride with a bunch of strangers, there’s a good chance that you’ll not only survive, but actually have a pretty interesting experience.

xx Gabi

P.S. D) when it comes to Bolt buses, you get what you pay for. That said, they will refund you if they ruin your day!

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