Many of us do it five days a week.
It’s a competition, a battle.
Who will be the chosen ones? The rest will be left to wait outside in the arctic wind. And be late to class.
Any experienced commuter student who parks on West Campus understands an unspoken rule: When the buses pull up at the stop, there will not be enough seats for everyone waiting.
Really, it’s kind of like the Titanic and its lack of lifeboats.
The bus turns the corner, and the stranded passengers wrench their necks, awaiting their destiny.
Will the front of the bus display the most beautiful letters in the land — “NE”?
If it does, students start to shuffle toward an area we guess to be the exact spot where the bus’ doors will stop. We try to keep it polite.
“Oh, excuse me,” one says to his enemy, as he purposefully moves one foot closer to the front of the line. They’re both fighting for the same seat.
The doors open. A few passengers getting off the bus are forced to sprint down the steps before the masses clog the doorways.
And then, all hell breaks loose. I like to play a soundtrack in my head to accompany the chaos. At this point, I listen to Metallica and watch the mad dash.
We pack into the buses, two at a time in the doorways like Noah’s Ark. The bus’ shocks seem to creak with the weight load.
The morning bus is not a place for the claustrophobic. Seating is quickly snatched up, and the rest of us are forced to cram into the standing room, our bodies pressed into positions one would only attempt during an epic game of Twister.
The stairways are filling up. Only the bravest seek to squeeze themselves on before the inevitable happens.
The doors close, and the rest must wait.
“O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana, by Carl Orff haunts my ears. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s that torturous melody in the background during a slow motion scene in a movie.
We travel, falling onto each other around the curves and turns, grasping for anything to remain upright, and trying to keep our coffee in our cups.
And then we reach the next stop. One cannot fully describe the faces of those waiting to board when they realize there is no room.
On second thought, “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills and Nash pretty much sums it up.
The driver often does not even open the doors because they know more students will try to wedge themselves behind the yellow line.
So the bus continues. Some abandoned passengers scream toward our direction, others just shake their heads and start walking. Once, I saw someone actually chase the bus down just to smack the back door in anguish.
This pattern continues as we reach the few additional stops before our final destiny: Central Campus. We stampede down the steps and spread across campus to our classes, sharing the same CABS chronicle.
Sometimes I wonder if all of this could be avoided by just adding a couple more buses during the peak hours.
But then again, nothing wakes me up better in the morning than humming Barry Manilow’s “Looks Like We Made It” as I walk to class.