This is part 3 of an on going series. In case you haven’t, please read Part 1 and Part 2!
Kansas City, Kansas. It’s been 2 hours since our driver deposited us here unceremoniously, claiming he was too tired to drive on. What should have been a 20-minute service and meal stop has turned into an open-ended wait for a new driver. Normally, in such a situation, we’d wait for the next bus, a whole 8 hours behind us. But our station manager, working tirelessly beyond the call of duty has managed to get us a replacement. Still, our replacement driver is over 4 hours away and it’s 2 AM. Nerves are raw and we can’t sleep.
I take to cracking really bad jokes with David, the pleasant photographer from Laramie, Wyoming, trading them back and forth. We rip endlessly into fellow passengers, the station staff, the bus driver who left us here, the kitchen staff at the restaurant. Nothing and no one is spared. It’s a nice way to pass the time. We’re all desperate for information as well – when is the driver coming? Will we be able to make up the time we’ve lost? What happens to our connections in Denver? No answers are forthcoming. Events will proceed at their own pace.
When the jokes get old, we start talking to the people around us. There’s an elderly lady who’s leaving her (much younger, abusive) boyfriend and going in the opposite direction, to the east coast. Her friend on the road is a new grandmother visiting her teenage daughter who’s just had a baby. Once again, the cycle of making new friends begins but this time I am just too tired to take part as enthusiastically as I did before. I can sense myself sinking more and more into a melancholy mood and nothing I do helps. The free sandwich and coffee is terrible, the banana I buy is soggy and mushy. I know I shouldn’t expect any different – its now 3 AM and despair is fast claiming me. I start to reminisce about things long past. Love, hope, regret, all come claiming attention. And then, just as I am about to give in and get lost in it, I realize: It doesn’t really matter. We’re such creatures of habit that when our plans – our desperate little immature schedules and plans that we have taken forever to put together start to come unraveled, we lose our minds. But I am not in that situation.
My plans are not important to me. I have paid the price to ride this ride and now I am on it I might as well enjoy it. It was such a surprising and enlightening thought that I had to laugh and instantly my mood was changed. Where there was despair, I now felt joy. My irritations became amusements. I’m again able to make friends and lift the moods of people around me. Through me, they gain spirit and do the same. This change isn’t unique to me, I see it happening in knots and swirls around me, in every group. A Mexican man who speaks no English communicates only in thumbs-up and grins with the very stereotype of a redneck Nascar fan wearing a Steelers cap and a tobacco-stained grin. A pair of old black ladies dressed incredibly properly (too properly, for 3 AM) talk quietly. One of them hands out religious propaganda.
Slowly, despite no change in our external situation, we’re ready to move on and our energy is palpable. In an hour, our new driver gets in and starts checking our bus. We set off on our long way west, once again. I check the clock. 40 hours in. 20-odd hours to go. Denver, here I come.
Part 4 will be out in 24 hours! Subscribe to the blog using the form on the left, to receive updates in your inbox!