I’m a transportation snob. I will travel by train, plane, car, boat, bicycle, hovercraft, covered wagon, rickshaw, or elephant, but I will not travel by bus. Even the Skytrain is pushing it.
I came by my snobbishness honestly. Growing up in the untamed wilds of North Delta, tens of miles away from civilization, I and my friends relied on the bus system to get around. And by “get around” I mean “go to the mall”. I have vivid and horrifying memories of long, frozen/wet waits at the Scott Road bus stop. One winter afternoon, my friend Trina and I, both of us in the early stages of hypothermia, cracked and simply climbed onto the first bus that appeared. The name Bridgeview 335 will go down in Princess legend. The sign said the #335 bus went to Guildford Mall. The sign neglected to say the #335 bus went to Guildford Mall via River Road, Liechtenstein, and Hell. I don’t know how long Trina and I were stuck on that bus, but it was long enough to compose, (and sing) an entire song about the journey. Sung to the tune of Alice’s Restaurant, the chorus went like so…
You can get anywhere you want on Bridgeview three-three-five…except for Guildford.
Then there were the smells, the mess, the lack of seating, the scary people, the cranky bus drivers, the endless stops and starts, the limited routes, and the crazy people singing songs they made up about being stuck on the Bridgeview 335. The vast majority of my mass transit memories provoke a PTSD-ish cold sweat when I revisit them.
And so I don’t revisit them.
But I have a reason for this.
Wait for it…
This week, Prez and I are staying at the Kozak Mansion™ while Prez does some stunt work. (Thanks to a six-page confidentiality agreement, I can’t tell you what show he’s working on but it’s definitely not Freddy Got Fingered II). Tungsten Carbide Chef Kozy has been stuffing us full of goodies at every opportunity, (I now bleed butter and fresh herbs, if you cut me open), and life has generally been pretty kushy, but I’m in the big city, and that’s rare, so I want to do things I can only do in the big city, like write long and pointless run-on sentences! I had places to go and people to see.
Problem #1: I have no vehicle. Fred needs the truck to go work on the Top Secret Movie.
Problem #2: This is not Nelson. Everything is not within a 20 minute walking radius.
If I was going to go out and do things, I was going to have to take…public transportation.
My first foray, a Skytrain ride to Metrotown Mall to meet my sister, then on to BC Place to partake in Eat Vancouver, went well. It helped that Tweeter drove me to the Skytrain station (thus avoiding the dreaded bus), and that Prez picked me up from the same station later (albeit, not happily, after spending a long day getting bashed around in freezing water). It also helped that after Kelly and I did, indeed, eat most of Vancouver, and drink a good portion of its alcoholic beverages too, I was toasted enough that you could have told me the Skytrain was actually a spaceship and I might have believed you.
This delightful experience, gave me the confidence to face my bus issues head on. A few days later, I walked up the hill and waited for the Fraserview 337. I was skeptical but there was a lovely, clean, bus shelter populated by normal looking people. The bus was, likewise, clean, the driver friendly, and the bus interior was bright and welcoming. 15 minutes later, I was at the Skytrain station. 15 minutes after that, I was at Metrotown Mall, (again). A few hours after that, Kelly and I were once more nomming and slurping. I’d now had two very positive public transit experiences.
Had the curse been broken? Had I been misjudging mass transit all these years?
Trip number three was ambitious. I was going to travel all the way to SFU, on Burnaby Mountain, to meet a fellow SF Canada author, Lynda Williams, and her husband David Lott. I did not want to be late, I did not want to get lost, and so I consulted the Translink Trip Planner Oracle. After all, the Internet would never steer me wrong!
In the Trip Planner Oracle, I entered the dates, times, and locations of my trip. The Trip Planner Oracle gave me a selection of options. I chose the shortest and easiest route. I wrote out the instructions. I studied the map. I studied the bus numbers and transfer points.
I was ready.
To keep a long story short, let’s just say that from this day forward, the Translink Trip Planner Oracle will be referred to as Sadistic Lying Bastard.
Here’s the route I could have taken if I had trusted myself and planned out the trip using the power of my common sense.
And here is the Route I took, as provided by Sadistic Lying Bastard…
The best part of the trip was when I made it all the way to SFU, mere minutes from my final destination, and I transferred onto the next bus, (as per Sadistic Lying Bastard’s instructions), which then went all the way back down the mountain I had just spent close to an hour going up.
If there is a moral to this story, I think it is this: “If you don’t like something, don’t try to like it. Just keep on not liking it forever and avoid any attempts to get over your unliking.”
On the very up side to all this, Lynda and David were awesome, fun, and meeting them was well worth the trip. I have lots of writer friends in Nelson but few of them write genre fiction and even fewer (two) write speculative fiction. I read one of Lynda’s novels during my trip to Baja, and she had just finished Warpworld before my arrival, so we had lots to chat about. There was also nomming and slurping, as has become my post-mass transit tradition.
To be fair, Sadistic Lying Bastard’s labyrinthine route aside, the journey wasn’t terrible. I listened to a good chunk of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War on my iPod, took in the scenery, and learned that there is absolutely no limit to the number of times a three-year-old boy can say “HELLO!” to you, and really mean it.
Am I healed? Have I made peace with bus travel?
Well, with a enough nomming, slurping, and fun people to motivate me…
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!