A Serendipidous Night


I took a cue from Ruby’s Gratitude Journal and have devoted myself to posting weekly about positive things.  It is not necessarily gratitude, but things that fill me with warm feelings, beautiful sights, and little wonders.

Monday did not have to give me a poke this week.  I found it all by myself, without so much as a reach.

Yesterday started poorly, as I noted in With This Pill.  However, I had a series of fortunate events.  I called it a serendipitous evening.

I will start out with a status I left on my real life Facebook:

Dear Suburbanites Attending Light Up Night,

I  know jaywalking is a Pittsburghese birthright, but you have taken it to extremes when you gridlock rush hour traffic.  It is clear to me that you do not live, work, or play in the Downtown area.  If you did, you would probably know better than to jump out in front of a Port Authority Bus.

You are the people who would jump off a cliff if all of your friends were doing it.  Thanks for polluting the gene pool.

Love,

Em

For those who are not Pittsburgh natives, you may be unfamiliar with Light Up Night.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is that there is a big difference between Pittsburgh suburbanites and regular city-goers.  Pittsburgh suburbanites pour into various city neighborhoods like Downtown (where Point State Park is) and Northshore (where the stadiums are) for big events.  Light Up Night, First Night, Saint Patrick’s Day, The Regatta, every godforsaken Pirates game, Steelers games, and Penguins games.  And anytime they are present in their masses, it never ceases to create a complete clusterf*** in the area.

I am an expert jaywalker.  I can dart through an intersection without any traffic disruption whatsoever.  However, these droves of people don’t care if they are crossing against the light.  The herd marches on, completely unaware that their presence affects anyone or anything.  They are intent upon excitedly dancing in the street while on their way to (insert big event here).

There are two things you don’t do in the city.  If you are going to jaywalk, don’t do it on a stale red.  The opposing traffic is attempting to gun it through that yellow and may actually hit you.  I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes.  And don’t ever, under any circumstances jump out in front of a Port Authority Bus.  They don’t care and are mostly unaware.  They have a route to keep and plenty of company lawyers to keep a plaintiff running in circles and draining their resources.

Back to the story.  I had a moment where a wonderful woman asked to borrow my lighter.  We had a nice conversation and remarked about how we’ve seen each other on the bus in passing.  The day continued as usual, pretty unremarkable.

On my way out of work, it was brought to my attention that it was Light Up Night.  FML, I thought.  I wasn’t working at all during this time last year, so I had forgotten about the event altogether.  And I wondered what traffic nightmare awaited me.  So far, the day was not a rousing success.

I met the same woman on the bus again on the way home, seated diagonally from me.  We had sporadic conversation, until we approached the massive traffic jam.  The bus crawled at 5 miles an hour into Downtown.  The driver remarked, “I don’t know where I’m going, so feel free to jump off at any corner.”  Port Authority drivers are usually very strict about what stops you are and are not allowed to board and depart the bus from.  He later announced that we were taking Ninth to Penn.  Penn is where I pick up the bus home, and it was absolutely imperative that I catch a certain numbered, bus because it was the last one out.

We inched along, and I kept a sharp lookout down the street.  I was looking to see if I was going to miss my connection.  As we approached the intersection, my connection passed the bus I was boarded.  Defeated, I said, “Well, there it goes.”  The woman I met, her friend, and the driver started shouting, “Jump off this bus and go get it!”  I’m not moving well, and I didn’t think I was going to make it.  Not only did I get the bus, I managed to catch the one a few cars ahead of it.

It was fortunate I caught the bus so far up Penn.  My usual stop was blocked off.  We turned onto Sixth and were intent upon taking Liberty out of the city. However, we were stuck at the intersection due to pedestrian traffic for 10 light changes.  A police officer stood there doing absolutely nothing about it.  At 7PM, after being on busses for about an hour, the cop started to move the barriers onto Liberty, blocking our way out.

Another fortunate event.  We moved up Liberty toward the Strip District.  We got onto Fort Duquesne Boulevard and made a bee line out of town.  I expected to be stopped at the bridge or on Carson.  Quite the contrary.  We flew through the rest of town.  The bus sped down a completely unobstructed, ghost highway at 57 miles per hour until we reached my destination.  Fortunately, I was the only rider aboard.

I made it home in record time – 7:20PM – only 20 minutes from where I was stuck.  Yeah, I was an hour and a half late getting home, but it was a hell of a lot better than it could have been.  The bus headed down our route was nowhere to be found when I disembarked.  I could only assume that it was still slowly weaving its way through traffic.

It’s nice to see you again, Serendipity.  I missed you.

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6 thoughts on “A Serendipidous Night

    • I am a stickler for routine. Whenever there is a deviation from the plan, I either experience panic or disappointment. I don’t handle either well; I have little acceptable coping mechanisms for both. I was about to grab that shovel when I saw the connection pass, but the encouragement of strangers invigorated me.

      It’s a relative idea, but this is how I see it. If perfect strangers can have positive emotions for me, then I can imagine the depth of emotion that a loved one can have for me. What a crazy idea! – people actually having deep, soul penetrating emotions for me! Lol!

  1. Yes we do, “If perfect strangers can have positive emotions for me, then I can imagine the depth of emotion that a loved one can have for me. What a crazy idea! – people actually having deep, soul penetrating emotions for me! Lol!” And, the nice thing about strangers is that there is not the 40+ years of emotional baggage with them. Strangers allow a nice mixture of anonymity, distance, encouragement, involvement, and enjoyment in connecting with other sojourners without the attached strings. I still love my family and close friends though.

    And I need routine now too or it can and does get ugly. That was not always the case however; well, I actually still needed the routine, but it never really happened in the earlier years. My family life was quite chaotic growing up, not in an abusive/alcoholic sort of way, although there was in part parental first hand fallout from their growing up. No, my family operated like hamsters (each with their head down coping in whatever manner suited the situation) in a cage running and bumping into each other with no apparent leader in the midst. The only routine we had was external; the school bus came at exactly 7:45 each and every morning whether we were there or not. After having to double ride too many times on a 10-speed bicycle with my brother as co-pilot to meet yet another morning obligated routine (school classes started at 8:20 a.m. sharp), I realized my misery could be avoided with some simple ingenuity. In my waking moments when all I wanted to do was stay in bed, I conjured up visions of yet another desperate morning fight as to who was getting the bicycle seat. This worked for a span of time before the snuggly warmth of my bed triumphed. Perhaps a more vivid larger than life picture of that cursed bike taped to the ceiling would have been more compelling. At any rate, the cycle of me running to catch up with life’s predetermined routine had been set in motion, leaving me feeling like a pawn in someone else’ game.
    I figured there had to be other options, either off the ring leader of whose expectations and rules I was following or design my own game. I chose the latter with a twist, and I’ll end this reply right here; I’m starting to get more ideas forming on explaining how I’m redesigning my game plan. Let’s just say I did not have to off anyone. It feels quite liberating to be mostly free of the hamster cage; I just feel saddened by seeing others still in captivity. I’m now working on and trying to live a routine of my own making. The journey continues.
    Laurie

    • Real love requires forgiving AND forgetting. Sometimes, this can be achieved through redemption through some kind of reparations. I could forgive my husband for anything short of breaking our marriage vows (in sickness, health, good times, and bad, together exclusively for the rest of eternity). And in most cases, I can forget. I cannot hold a grudge against him. But I can’t say that I don’t remember when I’ve been bruised again in the same place. The body forgets pain. The mind can too. But, we can always be reminded instead of constantly carrying the baggage.

      Everything in my life was highly routined because I have an brother with autism. (I suspect he has co-morbid OCD). We did everything at a certain time. It was monotanous, and I felt the need for change the second I walked out of the household. It was chaos.

      The nice thing about having a family is that it’s forced my hand. I have to get back into a groove. And it’s really nice, I’ll be honest. I like predictable. Not living the same day repeatedly, but familiar experience I can generalize behaviors to. I built this cage. The door is always open. But it is a comfortable cage where we peacefully co-exist with plenty of space to do our own thing.

      I feel bad for the people in captivity who were forced their through some kind of disagreeable circumstance. Change is hard, and windows to freedom are short. But freedom means that you have to fend for yourself in the big, bad world. How many are up to the challenge?

  2. Oh, how I miss Light Up Night! My family living in Mount Washington, that was usually where we headed for events like these.

    As much as the suburbanites make your life difficult, you have to admit their devotion to the city and its traditions is a lot of what makes Pittsburgh such a unique and special city. 😉

    Glad you made your connection and got home. No harm, no foul. 😀

    • Mt. Washington is a city neighborhood. Folks from that area know better. But, those that are from the surrounding areas, apparently don’t. I understand that they have little idea what being a real pedestrian is. Crossing a street with a stop sign on a suburban road while you take your morning jog is not the same as contending with Downtown traffic.

      I appreciate their devotion and their economic stimulus. Without Pittsburgh fanaticism and traditions, we would be any garden variety city where people just live. This is proof positive that the City of Pittsburgh and it’s suburbs are a community in itself.

      It took me an hour and a half from my start point. Not bad, all things considered.

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