It Wasn’t The Right Route

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Monday mornings suck. They especially suck in the middle of January at 6 AM. We Canadians brag about how well we can take the cold, but I despise every winter with passion. It’s hard to not hate this terrible season when you wake up to the sound of the wind howling like some great beast, and you look out the window to see the snow falling sideways. There’s only one word to describe it: cold. I hate the cold. I hate everything about it.

Someone told me the third Monday of January is known as “Blue Monday”. Supposedly it’s the most depressing day of the year, though I’m not sure if that has some kind of scientific merit or if it’s just superstition. I recalled this fun fact when I woke up on the morning of this year’s “Blue Monday”. My alarm went off at 6 AM. That gave me almost 20 minutes to get my clothes on and make it to the bus. I tripped over my girlfriend as I stumbled out of bed and nearly stepped on the cat.

“Ow,” she muttered.

“Sorry,” I replied, trying to find my pile of clothes in the dark. After a few seconds of trying to figure out what-was-what, I grew fed up and turned the lights on.

“Aaaaaah!” Annie whined and pulled the blankets over her head.

“Sorry, babs.”

“I hate you,” she mumbled. “How am I supposed to get back to sleep?”

“She asks her boyfriend as he’s about to leave for a 12 hour shift while she gets the whole day off,” I narrated incredulously.

“Ha,” she uttered with triumph.

Eventually I was dressed.

“Alright. Leaving now. Bye, babs.”

Annie pulled the blanket down to her neck and puckered her lips. I bent down and kissed her. As I pulled away she said “Okay. Bye, babs. Have fun at work. Love you.”

“Yeah, yeah, love you too,” I said as I walked away.

I laced up my boots in the hall and checked my watch. The bus wouldn’t arrive at my stop for at least 10 minutes.

I wasted about a few minutes in the hall screwing around with my phone. Eventually I decided I couldn’t postpone going outside any longer. I left the building to traverse Planet Hoth.

It’s not that bad I thought at first. Oh, how easily I forget how the cold works. It’s never too bad when you first step outside. It’s chilly, sure, but it’s bearable. That is, until the wind smacks you in the face for a good little while. Soon enough, your face is going numb, and your boogers are freezing inside of your nose. The wind is so harsh it’s driving tears from your eyes which freeze on your face.

My bus stop has no shelter. It’s only marked by a blue sign on a pole with “BUS STOP” written in big white letters. All I could do was stand in the cold and take it. It was too cold to take off my gloves and use my phone, so I impassively stared at my watch instead. The bus wouldn’t be there for at least 5 more minutes.

But then it came. It was early! The bus has never been early! Maybe it was out of service. After all, it wasn’t showing a number or destination. It was going to pass right by me and leave me in the cold.

It began to slow down. Was it stopping? It was! Something was wrong with it. Along with no number or destination showing, the lights inside seemed to be off. Maybe the cold was screwing with the power. Does it work that way? I didn’t care. The bus fwooshed to a stop, and the doors slid open. Immediately I felt heat. So the lights were off, but the heat was on. Good! But man, was it hot. Scorching.

I fumbled for my bus card and went to scan it.

“Doesn’t work” said the bus driver.

“Oh” I said sheepishly “I don’t have any change.”

“Don’ worry ’bout it” he replied.

“Oh, thanks a lot man!” I said, looking up at the driver.

I’d never seen him before. Having the bus for so long, I had become accustomed to the drivers’ faces. I had never seen his before. I would have known if I did. He was just barely illuminated by a street lamp outside. In the light I could see the severe burn on the right side of his face. His skin looked like it was boiling and melting at the same time. He had no right eye.

He snarled “The fuck are you looking at?!”

“Oh, God, I’m sorry. I just… don’t recognize you” I was stammering. “And…”

“Take your seat” he growled. I did as I was told.

There was nobody else on the bus except for some sleeping bag lady. I call her a bag lady because she had plastic bags around her hands and feet. They looked scaly.

The bus rocked back into motion. It was too hot. My hands were burning as feeling returned to them. I had to strip down. I took off my jacket and my sweater and set them on the chair next to me. That was better.

I watched the world pass by through the window. We approached Regent Street, where the bus would turn left and head to the downtown core. But the bus went straight on through.

“Excuse me” I called to the bus driver. “This is the 12, right? Aren’t you headed to the downtown transfer point?”

“That’s not my route” said the bus driver, and he looked back at me. He looked at me with a barracuda grin on his face.

Just then I noticed the bus had no wires or buttons to request a stop. It was too late. TC mark

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