This morning, I awoke to the upsetting discovery was that the Internet was broken. Yes, the whole damn Internet was banjaxed. I know this because I carried out extensive diagnostic tests (namely attempting to open a variety of sites on the browsers of two separate computers) and then performed the single act of Internet healing that I have in my arsenal – I rebooted the cable modem.
All this, resulted in a big fat nothing. The magic I-Mac couldn’t find Google. My nifty laptop couldn’t find Google. Ergo, the Internet was, in fact, well and truly broken.
Peter is the only one in our house with sufficient Black Magic skills to fix the Internet and he was sleeping. I weighed my marriage against my email/blog addiction and the marriage won. I’m not going to tell you the margin (I don’t want anyone getting complacent or, on the flip side, unduly worried.)
A thing like a broken Internet could wreck my whole morning, but it ended up okay. My second novel is deliciously close to completion and I used the extra time to proofread and make minor adjustments. Breakfast, coffee and proofing were all had and I was still on schedule.
I left the house at the usual time and walked the 100 feet or so to the bus stop across the street, where two Eastern European guys were having a discussion that involved a lot of whispering, gesturing, and looking around. My paranoia instantly kicked in and I was sure they were going to kidnap me to sell me to a Russian drug lord. As I was frantically plotting my escape should the worst happen, an Irish guy in a high visibility vest arrived and his presence put me at ease.
Shortly after my hero arrived, a third Eastern European guy showed up and the whisper/gesture/looking around thing started anew. It only lasted about a minute, then the guys walked off together up the road. Strange, yes, but who ever said that people made sense? Maybe they didn’t like yer man’s “Arrive Alive” vest. Maybe they thought the pickings for lone scared girls would be better down the road. Maybe they were just using the bus stop as a meeting point.
Whatever, their leaving left prime real estate next to the bus stop open, so I moved up closer to the actual bus stop. I should stop and explain bus stops in Dublin. They basically come in three varieties:
· Deluxe bus stop – has a shelter of some sort, usually plastered with advertising, but doesn’t have seats because, you know, homeless people might sleep on them. Instead, the best you can hope for is a rail to lean your ass against. Usually also includes a standard bus stop pole with a schedule.
· Standard bus stop – a blue pole with a yellow circle on the top. The circle lists the numbers for the busses that stop there. The schedule is printed on a cylindrical tube that’s at eye level and you can spin it around to find your bus number’s schedule. Although it’s not really a schedule. For a Dublin bus, it’s more like recommended arrival times.
· Abandon All Hope bus stop – just the blue pole, maybe with a yellow circle, if you’re lucky. You find these on deserted rural roads and I think they’re actually traps to cull the gullible people out of the population. I don’t believe that busses ever actually stop at them. If busses actually stopped at these stops, they’d display a schedule, right?
Our bus stop was the standard variety. So, this morning, when the Warsaw Pact moved off, I went to stand closer to the pole. But…the bus stop was gone!
"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and suddenly silenced."
Or at least one voice – mine. Where was the bus stop? How does an entire bus stop disappear overnight? I was truly flummoxed by the missing stop. Mr. High Visibility Vests appeared unconcerned though.
I looked a bit closer and I’m pretty sure that I could see some concrete or spackle in the hole where the bus stop pole used to be. I couldn’t see any sign that the stop used to be there. No chunks of bus stop, no flakes of blue paint, no stump of a pole. There also wasn’t a sign or memo informing the loyal Dublin bus customers of the fate of the Rochestown Avenue bus stop.
When the bus rounded the corner, I put my arm out to flag the bus, the way I do every morning. After I paid, I asked the driver if that was still a bus stop. He had a wonderfully thick Cork accent and spoke like a man who shot caffeine directly into his veins:
Him: Yesyessoitsoitis. Tha’sstillabusstopsoitis. Yeapwhathappensissometimesthestopsgetstolen, but what’lldoiswhenIgetbacktothegarage,I’lltellthemthat’saftergettingstolen,soIwill.
Translation: Yes. Sometimes the signs get stolen though so I’ll let them know at the depot.
Him: We’llstillstopferyeocourse weknowwhereallthestopsare
Translation: We’ll still stop if you stick your arm out.
At this point, he took his hand off the steering wheel and indicated how to wave down a bus in a vigorous fashion. I was a shade concerned as I like my bus drivers to keep both hands on the wheel, especially the ones who are hopped up on caffeine. Oh, and it goes without saying, I like them to keep their eyes on the road.
I made the decision to thank him politely and swiftly before he crashed the bus on my account. As I was walking to the stairs, I heard him shout something back to me that sounded like “Ah look, here it is.”
I looked out the window and saw a shiny new stop, about 500 feet from the old stop. Standing at the stop were the Warsaw Pact. So, apparently, the bus company moved the stop, but didn’t bother to inform the drivers or the riders, which of course, for an Irish semi-state agency, makes perfect sense.
The reaction of my fellow bus stop users was very interesting. The Eastern European guys obviously wanted to stand at the official bus stop. The Irish guy didn’t care – he’s probably seen thousands of bus stops come and go in his time. I wasn’t worried about the bus not stopping, I was just confused.
I guess tomorrow I’ll go to the new bus stop, although I’m curious how long passengers and drivers can keep the old stop in operation.