Monday, January 23, 2012

Betty and the story of Bart

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
J.R.R. Tolkien

The morning was cold. Skies were gray with dark, foreboding clouds. Small luggage in hand, she walked trepidly across the windy bridge, looked around nervously and saw what she was after... the ticket machine. It had been a long, sleepless night, knowing what she had to do. Yes, she had to take public transportation!

Though many in her family had gone before her, this was her first time... a solo journey that would culminate with a shuttle bus and a flight out of town.

After purchasing the ticket and figuring out that the ticket prompted the release of the triangular gate, she walked along the platform, eyeing other passengers, noting their features and trying to discern which ones would be safest by which to stand. Shivering during the wait for the tram to arrive, she heard a voice call out, announcing the arrival of the tram and the imminent boarding. Scenarios played out in her head... strange plots that had been viewed in movies... Was that quiet, darkly dressed man spying behind that pillar? What about that middle aged man, trying to blend in... was he an undercover officer?

So it was that Betty boarded Bart. She sat close to the exit door, gratefully eyeing the map. As the tram pulled away from the station, groans and muffled screeches were heard... the tram on it's tracks. The journey progressed rather quickly, while she continued monitoring each stop on the diagram. She could not help but lean forward to make sure that each station's sign coordinated with the map. Next stop... the ultimate test. To reach her destination, she must exit the tram, cross the landing and enter another one. She'd rehearsed this many times over. Heart racing, she grasped hold of her luggage and book bag, stood and confidently stepped forward.

Moments later she shuffled down the aisle of a nearly full car, finding a seat. This time she was seated in a manner which was facing the opposite direction of which the tram would travel, which unnerved the poor lady. Next... well... it was something she just had to do... yes, she had to look back over her shoulder... you know, to make sure nobody had out their camera phone to take pictures! She'd seen that in a movie once, too. Then, it happened. The tram went dark. Yep, you guess it. It traveled under ground. It's just not natural to suddenly find oneself traveling underneath the surface of the earth. Heart racing, it became mind over matter. She told herself to just breathe. People survived this hourly. She would make it.

Fortunately, the announcement was made. Up next was the stop for the coliseum, with an airport shuttle. This time she eagerly took hold of her belongings and quickly exited, ever so grateful for the sign on the platform that displayed an arrow, directing her to the bus shuttle location. Although slightly put off that the driver would not accept her dollars and required her to insert them herself into the machine, she happily hurled her luggage onto the rack and took her seat. Success! She had done it! Next stop, the airport. But, she knew airports. She could totally do airports. Easy. Breathing a satisfied sigh, she began to relax and noticed her heart rate decelerating. Then... they arrived.

Two women wobbled into the shuttle and although the sign clearly said that all luggage was to be stowed on the appropriate rack, they must not have been able to read, because they put theirs right in the middle of the aisle. Now Betty had taken the 3rd of 4 seats that were connected. One lady sat down on the first. Her very good friend sat across from her. Phew. Then it happened. The very good friend decided that she absolutely must sit close beside her traveling buddy. She arose and turned and sat down. Squish. I kid you not, she sat on Betty's very own leg!!! Astonished and slightly annoyed, but not wanting to risk being rude, Betty slipped quickly out from underneath the large lady and settled into the 4th chair.

Twelve minutes later, she was able to disembark and happily joined the line inside the airport to check in her luggage and receive her boarding pass. This was the easy part of the day. And as she began to reflect on her overcoming of public transportation fear, he arrived. The coughing, snorting man who looked as though he hadn't slept in days. He joined the line, standing right behind her. In between coughs, she heard him say into his telecommunicating device that he had not yet taken his decongestant. As the line moved forward, she wisely turned her luggage long-ways between her and the man behind. Yet, she was stunned when he chose to walk alongside her suitcase and stand close! "Seriously?" she asked herself. Then he brushed her backside!!! "Seriously??" she asked herself once more. Perhaps flying presents more of a hazard than the tram....

However, she checked through security, boarded her plane, upon which the man with a cough was not a passenger, and promptly fell asleep during flight... overtaken by the sheer exhaustion of her imagination and the events of the day.

The End. Or is it?

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