A Simple Plan.

The water heater was leaking and taking cold showers or heating up pans of water on the stove and standing in a tub in the middle of the kitchen was getting old so I stayed home one morning to wait for the plumber. He said I could expect him between 8:30 and 9:00 and then at 9 o’clock on the dot called to say he’d be at the house in half an hour, and he was. Then he installed a new water heater which required the use of a blow torch and after he was done the basement smelled like birthday candles which was weird because I’ve seen the same model of blow torch used to make crème brulee so I expected the basement to smell like caramelized sugar, but that’s another story.

And then once he was gone, taking the old water heater and a sizable chunk of our checking account with him, I started walking up the sunny side of the street, or at least it was sunny until it started raining, up the corner where I’d catch the bus. I had a simple plan. I could have waited half an hour for the regular bus that would drop me two blocks from where I work, but instead I decided to wait five minutes for the express bus that could drop me off a mile and a half from where I work or I could just ride it all the way to the terminal and then catch a bus that would drop me off right in front of where I work.

The total amount of time either way would probably be about the same, but taking the express bus meant I could relax and put my feet up, at least until the people in the seat in front of me complained.

I’ve never ridden the express bus all the way to the terminal before so I didn’t think it was unusual when the driver, instead of continuing in a straight line on the most direct route, took a sudden left turn, then a sudden right turn, and suddenly we were in an open area about three blocks from the terminal and surrounded by other buses.

“Everybody needs to get out,” the driver told us.

“What’s goin’ on?” a woman yelled. “I paid for a trip downtown and I want to go downtown!”

Well, we were pretty close to downtown, or even in it, depending on how you define it. We just hadn’t gone to the usual stopping point and the driver had already disembarked.

I got out and wandered around. Buses from every route were parked on all four sides of an intersection. No one, including the drivers, knew what was going on, just that we’d been ordered to this stop. I wandered around and found the bus that, according to its number, would drop me off at my office. We sat for a few minutes then drivers started yelling to each other, “All clear!” and a voice over the radio announced that drivers could resume their regular routes. So we went to the terminal which, I later learned, had been temporarily shut down because of a “suspicious package”. When the bus pulled in lots of people were coming out of the terminal doughnut shop, which is apparently the safest place to go during a bomb threat.

I did eventually get to work, but the elevators were shut down for repairs. And then my computer had to run a half hour update.

I’m still not sure whether staying home would have been the safer.

Facebook Comments


  1. mydangblog

    That’s actually a little scary–I’m glad the suspicious package wasn’t anything harmful.We have bomb-sniffing dogs at Union Station, and as much as I want to pet them, their mere presence is frightening. I keep hoping the world will calm down a little, and bus rides will be express and dogs can be petted at will.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      When I took a long bus trip drug and bomb sniffing dogs went through the luggage at each stop and I got yelled at for taking pictures of them. I’m sure they’re really sweet dogs though. They’re well-trained and I doubt would bite a person who wasn’t carrying drugs or a bomb.

  2. Ann Koplow

    I had one of those days yesterday, Chris.I’m glad we both survived.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad we both survived too. Those days seem to come far too often.

  3. Arionis

    That was quite an adventurous day. Maybe someone who really likes doughnuts got a box of jelly filled and said “This is the bomb!” Of course that would have had to happen in the early 2000’s because nobody uses that phrase anymore. So probably not then.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yeah, “This is the bomb” seemed to go out with “going postal”. I’m guessing though that the suspicious package was some guy’s man purse. Or wallet.

  4. Gilly Maddison

    Some days just go that way don’t they? And you kind of realise after the third weird thing that everything you try to do is going to go wrong. That’s when my paranoia really kicks in and I become convinced I am an avatar in a computer game that has been picked up by the usual player’s hyper-active psychotic kid. I really do think that when things are REALLY bad. ?

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s interesting that you start thinking you’re in a computer game when things get really bad. The fun thing, though, is that if you make it through one of those days you’ve probably managed to level up.


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