A Series of Unfortunate Events: Part 3

At last, we have arrived at the final traumatic event of my notorious worst day in Indiana (see Part 1 and Part 2). Any one of the incidents I experienced on Wednesday would be frustrating and annoying, but compounded together… Let’s just say, my tenacious, things-could-always-be-worse outlook on life was suffering some major cracks.


 

On the crazy bus ride to class, it occurred to me that I might need to go to the student health center to get the cut on my face checked because it might actually need stitches. I’ve never been stitched up before, and the thought of it was making my stomach do cartwheels (or maybe that was the bus’s seemingly random and very sudden stops and starts). I knew I wouldn’t have time to go before class, as I was already flirting dangerously with tardiness, and missing class was a definite not-going-to-happen after everything I’d been through just to get to class in the first place. Thus, my plan was to go to the health center after class.

But a meeting with my professor that I thought had been pushed to the next day was still on, meaning I didn’t finish up for the day until a couple of hours later than I had anticipated. This was pivotal for two reasons. 1) I decided the cut didn’t look so bad after a few hours of healing time. 2) I would have to wait another hour and a half to catch my shuttle home because it was lunchtime.

My face hurt, my knee hurt, the Tylenol had worn off, it had been a stressful morning, I was hungry, and I was ready to just go home. I decided to skip the student health center and not wait on the shuttle. Instead, I opted for the city bus.

big mistake

That was my first error in judgment; my next was deciding to wait for the bus at the stop where it had dropped me off (where there was an enclosed shelter) instead of my usual stop (where I would be at the mercy of the wind).

After a good thirty minutes, the bus finally crested the horizon. I boarded and settled in for a relatively quick trip home….

And found myself on the other side of the river nearly twenty minutes later. “Not a big deal,” I thought at first. I knew the bus had to go through the hub at some point along this trip. Apparently, I had just gotten on the bus taking the route in the opposite direction from where I needed to go. But the route is a loop; it would drop me off at home eventually.

Yeah. So much for that line of thought.

At the hub, my bus number became a different number, meaning it took on a new route. The numbers were fairly similar, so I was quite confused, thinking I might have been on the wrong bus all along. However, after another half hour, I realized the bus number had, indeed, changed the first time — I knew this because the bus number changed again.

uh-oh-baby-face

By this point, I was a good twenty miles from home, on the complete opposite side of town, and I had been on the bus for nearly an hour. In a frazzled, near-panic, I pulled the cord and got off when the bus stopped in front of a Wendy’s.

I was starving, but too upset to order without blubbering, so I ignored the counter and went straight to a booth in the corner to text my roommate and beg for a ride. I hated to ask, and if I hadn’t reached mission critical on what I could handle in any one day, I would’ve just used my bus app and tried to figure out which hops to take so I could at least get back to campus (and my familiar, faithful shuttle). But the day was just too much, and I’m human enough to admit, I went into the bathroom at Wendy’s and cried. Twice. It was on the second such trip that my wonderful, fantastic, best-roomie-in-the-world, I’ll-cook-you-dinner-for-a-week-if-you’ll-just-come-get-me roommate called me. She was off work and on her way!!!!!!!!!

snoopy-happy-dance

Still sniffling a little, I went back to my seat and attempted to compose myself. After a few minutes, I realized I was about as presentable as I was going to get, and knowing I still had some time to wait, I finally went to order a sandwich.

I was standing behind the barrier perusing the menu when I heard someone say, “Excuse me.” Thinking I was in the way of someone who wasn’t on the verge of falling apart and who actually knew what they wanted to order, I mumbled an apology and moved out of the way without really sparing a glance.

And then I heard it again. “Excuse me.”

Confused, I turned and faced a stranger.

“Can I buy you lunch?” he asked. “You just look like you are having a really bad day, and I would like to buy your lunch.”

And just like that, I was blubbering all over again.

My insanely awful, horrendously bad day was turned around by a little kindness from a stranger, not to mention a tremendous favor by my roommate. I graciously thanked the man for his offer of lunch but declined, and I ate my sandwich while I waited for Danielle to pick me up. I joked that I looked so pathetic, a stranger took pity on me, but his generosity really did brighten an extremely dark day. Even though the day was awful, it still produced a good memory. And after all, it’s the bad days that make you fully appreciate the good ones (and it’s the hard times that make you truly appreciate a good roommate). 🙂

I’ll leave you with a serendipitous picture someone posted on Facebook just as I was about to publish this blog post:

kindness

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A Series of Unfortunate Events: Part 2

The struggle continues (see Part 1)…

Needless to say, after I bashed myself in the face with my insulated Alabama cup (I’m still not convinced the thermos wasn’t acting maliciously), I missed the shuttle from my apartment complex. The next one on the route would put me more than 20 minutes late to class, and my car was surrounded by treacherous ice in the parking lot. So, I took the city bus. This would not have been a problem — I’ve taken this bus before. However, I’ve only gotten on at a particular stop on campus and ridden it home. I’ve never been the other way.

As a student at Alabama, it took me forever to gather up the courage to use UA’s bus system; I was always afraid I would take the wrong bus and end up on the wrong side of campus or in a place I’d never been. Once I grew more used to the campus (and downloaded an extremely helpful app), I was fine with taking the bus and that fear receded with each successful trip.

However, West Lafayette’s bus system is much larger and more complex than UA’s fairly simple campus-only bus routes. Plus, the windows are tinted, making it difficult to tell where you are at any given time. If it’s cloudy, snowing, foggy, or raining, it pretty much feels like you’re riding along in a shrouded box that only gains a visceral nature when it stops moving. As a reminder, this was the forecast on Wednesday:

With emphasis on the "cloudy."

With emphasis on the “cloudy.”

This is how I missed my stop on campus. I had no idea where I was, and once I figured it out, it was too late to shove aside the person sitting next to me and make a beeline to the door. I pulled the “hey, let me off this thing!” cable and after driving another couple of miles non-stop (making numerous twists and turns along the way), the bus finally spit me out at a stop in front of a building I’d never seen before.

I had no earthly clue as to where I was. It seemed I was stranded miles from my building, and I didn’t see a single landmark I recognized. Figuratively speaking, I had been blindfolded, taken to a unfamiliar location, spun around, de-masked, and told to find my way to my destination.

I pulled out my phone and used my map app to give me a general idea of which direction to travel, but the only familiar street in my vicinity was the one where I stood. Some instinct told me I would need to cross the street, but I had no idea if I needed to move east or west to reach my building. Choosing to go left at random, I walked a few yards and was finally able to make out the sign at the cross street. This info told me I was heading the wrong way, so I plodded back in the opposite direction. I crossed the street, walked a little further….and then realized I was about a tenth of a mile away from the bus stop I missed. Apparently, the bus had turned down a few side streets, basically circling around and ending up on the opposite side of the road.

I walked into class at 9:30am on the dot, without a minute to spare.

But making it to class on time wouldn’t mark a bright end to my hellish day, which contained more troubling events than would fit into even two blog posts. Three should cover it, though, so stay tuned for the third and final part in A Series of Unfortunate Events: Part 3.