Our September 1 Commuting Nightmare

1220369121I felt pretty smug heading into September 1. I love my apartment, so this was the first year in quite some time I didn’t have to move. And when I do eventually give up my studio of solitude, my lease ends on June 30, so I won’t need to deal with the throngs of students and other suckers on the September-August cycle.

But I forgot the Cardinal Rule of move-in day—it’s not just those who move that suffer. And I certainly suffered after I foolishly tried to commute from Somerville to Brookline via bus yesterday.

Even on the quietest of days, the 86 bus is seldom on schedule. Usually, it runs late. Occasionally, it shows up long before its scheduled arrival. To cover all my bases, I arrive at the bus stop 10 minutes early, and use the time to make phone calls or read a book.

Several buses that were out of service roared past me yesterday. A couple routes that didn’t get me across the river showed up. Twenty minutes after the 86 was scheduled to arrive at my stop, I called the MBTA customer service line and asked when I could expect a bus.

“They’re all delayed,” the agent told me. “They’re stuck in moving traffic.”

I asked if he could give me an estimate of how long it would be before a bus arrived, since I had to be somewhere at a certain time.

“Nope. The garage tells me that they’re all out. It’s not a mechanical problem or anything,” the agent explained.

Side note: I can’t wait for the GPS tracking system to be installed on the trains and buses, because this certainly would have been handy yesterday. I will personally send Dan Grabauskas the nicest fruit basket he’s ever seen to thank him for giving back to me the untold hours I spend waiting for trains and buses that never come.

After waiting another 10 minutes without a bus in sight, I hailed a cab. A hipster who was also waiting for the phantom bus was going to Allston, so we agreed to split the fare across the river. Traffic moved fairly easily until we got close to the corner of Comm. Ave. and Washington St. Since I was close to my destination, I paid the cab driver (who promptly made a U-turn and headed away from the mess) and surveyed the chaos around me.

1220369417There were frazzled parents driving cars with mattresses tied to the roof. Young women sat on couches, waiting for their parents to park the vehicle and help move their belongings. Trash cans were loaded with discarded pillows and window fans. I kept my distance from all the couches that lined the curb to avoid bringing bedbugs back to Somerville with me.

Even though I don’t live in a popular student neighborhood, I’m going to spend September 1, 2009 holed up in the apartment I love. And if for some reason I do have to leave, I’m taking the train.