Slow bus to Philly

The skyline of Pennsylvania's largest city Phi...

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Twenty-four hours from now, I will be done with my third marathon and on my way home to New York.  That is, if the buses are running the way they should be and I don’t end up stranded in Philly.  Normally I wouldn’t worry too much, but the thing is that getting here was so difficult that I’m not getting home will be any easier.

Let’s rewind to yesterday.  I reserved two bus tickets about a week ago–one for myself, and one for Nat.  The plan was this: after work on Friday, head to the bus stop, hop on the bus, and get to Philadelphia so that I would have Saturday to get to the expo without stressing about it, and plenty of time to have a nice relaxing day.  Things went according to plan, until I got in line at the Megabus stop near Penn Station at 6 p.m. for my 6:40 bus.  I kept hearing people talking about the 5:40 bus and how it hadn’t even arrived, but I chose to ignore it.  Nat showed up and we continued to wait.  I’d been pretty anxious all day and my stomach hadn’t been feeling all that great, so I have to say I wasn’t in the best mood at any time during the evening.  There was a huge number of people there since buses for Albany, Boston, and DC/Baltimore were all leaving from the same location, but rather than having a relatively organized system of lines, it just seemed chaotic.  You’d think that a company that has been in service for a while, as this one has, would have been able to handle crowds like this a bit better.  Instead, the employees were rude, impatient, and uninformative when people would ask them simple questions, like “Where do I get in line for X bus?”  The atmosphere was pretty unpleasant, and as 6:40 came and went, my anxiety continued to grow.

A few times, Nat turned to me and said that if I wanted to go home and just call everything off, it was okay.  I really didn’t want to, but waiting in line like this was pushing me over the edge.  My stomach was still upset, and I was getting so wound up about how late I would get into Philly (Nat planned to travel Saturday) that not going was actually somewhat tempting.  Moreover, it was getting colder and colder.  When I’d left the house in the morning (after dutifully checking www.weather.com, as I am wont to do for reasons I can’t explain given how thoroughly inaccurate their forecasts are [seriously, there have been times when it tells me it’s raining, and I’ll look outside to see sun and not a cloud in sight]) it was supposed to be a pretty mild day, so I’d worn a medium-weight sweater and a fleece jacket.  Standing there on the street after the sun had been down for over an hour, though, I began shivering.  My hands turned to ice.  My feet felt frozen.  And soon the shivering became nearly convulsive.  My shoulders and neck began to cramp from how tense my muscles were.  Time continued to pass, and Nat ignored my stubborn refusal to put on more layers and maneuvered me into one of his sweaters, in my luggage, and his gloves.  My body is so dysfunctional when it comes to its own temperature regulation, though, that this only helped slightly.  Convulsing, tired, and aching, I just started crying.  By 7:10 the 5:40 bus arrived, and people pushed and shoved to make their way onto it.  The Megabus staff kind of herded people like cattle, occasionally yelling when people jumped the line but mostly ignoring it, and insisted that only people with 5:40 tickets should get on even after a number of people with 6:40 tickets had already boarded.  As that bus pulled away with every single seat filled, I told Nat I just wanted to go home and leave tomorrow morning.  We waited a little bit longer, and then we left.

I was so happy to get home.  That is just not the sort of experience you want to have before you run a marathon.  It was so unpleasant!  I’m glad that instead of getting pushed and shoved and freezing to death, I went back home, had dinner, and got a good night’s sleep.  Today I got in to Philly by taking the NJ Transit train to Trenton and connecting to the Septa train that stops there.  The ride was a bit more expensive than the bus but infinitely more pleasant.  I got Philly when I expected to without any delays, met Mike so we could go pick up our race packets, and then headed over to my sister‘s house to hang out and have an awesome pasta dinner.

But all is not well.  I spoke to Nat on the phone close to four hours ago, and he said he’d made a reservation on the 5:40 bus.  At 5:46, he texted me to say the 3:40 bus had just arrived, which just makes me think, seriously?!  How does a company that does nothing but transport people by bus manage to get themselves into a situation where their buses are running at a two-hour delay?  Where are their buses coming from?  Why don’t they have surplus buses just in case something happens to the original ones, so that they can actually provide the service they advertise, and get people where they want to go on time?

At this point, I haven’t heard from Nat in two hours, and I have no idea whether he’s on a bus or still waiting on a street corner in New York.  I’m full of pasta and in the process of drinking lots of water, but I really wish my fiancé were here and that I could stop worrying about when he will (or won’t) get in.  Hopefully tomorrow will run as smoothly as the first part of this day, and not more like the experience I assume Nat is currently having.

Edited to add: I finally heard from Nat at around 8.  It’s now 8:30 and his bus still hasn’t come.  My sister and her fiancé are both out for the evening, and I can’t stay up late enough to let Nat in if he were to get here tonight.  So once again, a big thanks to Megabus for their complete and total ineptitude.  I’d really, really like to hear what their excuse was for this screw-up.

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2 comments

  1. Number one lesson learned – stick with Tripper Bus or even Vamoose. Vamoose might be more expensive, but they at least add extra buses when problems like this arise. Number 2 lesson – always pamper yourself before big events like marathons. Taking the train was the right move! Never put yourself in a position where you are going to experience stress due to the ineptitude of untested/untried providers such as bus companies or whatever. Number 3 lesson – text your family in the morning before the marathon and tell them what food you will need when you are finished running so that they can have it ready for you (since Nat won’t be there).

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