Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Car-Free in Tennessee-still hoofing it in December

Yup, we're still at it. And it's not been too bad with the exception of a couple of frustrating moments. On Thursdays, we usually leave the house to catch the 3:00 bus, go downtown, hang at the library for a while and then walk to aikido where Hammy picks us up at 6:15. Last week, we left the house on time but got to the creek to find it higher than it had ever been and impossible to cross (we'll make it to the library, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise"). Zed really needed a book about carbon atoms from the library for his science project so we walked to the local library branch and then caught the next bus which gets us downtown with just enough time for us to walk briskly the mile or so to aikido. We did get there on time.

Yesterday, was another story. I've been given some "listing" work in preparation for the next work project I'll be starting in February. I had to go to to speak with someone who is knowledgeable about the size of the buildings at the local airport and a university. Hammy took an afternoon off work last week so I got the university gig done last week. Yesterday, I decided that I would try taking the bus to the airport rather than driving Hammy to work, sitting in rush hour traffic, coming home, going out the airport, coming home and then sitting in rush hour traffic to pick him up again. I got to the bus stop probably 10 minutes before the bus was scheduled and waited. and waited. and waited. When the bus was about 15 minutes late, I called the customer service number to ask where it is and it apparently came early. Arrrrgggg. I feel strongly that bus drivers should be required to try and get around town by relying on the bus schedule. Buses running early are just as inconvenient as buses running late. So, I had to wait 30 minutes for the next bus which wound up being and additional 10 minutes late. My whole schedule was pushed off, so I had to call Zed to look on-line to find when the next bus to the airport would run.

Once downtown, I had a half an hour to wait before the next bus showed up. My favorite dressy-but-comfortable pair of shoes broke a heel last year so I took them to the shoe repair shop in the Arcade. It is one of those kind of places that is like walking into a time warp. In it the shelves are piled high with decades worth of stuff; they look like the strata of a cliff. The old cobbler fits the part amazingly well. He has an accent from someplace where the men are swarthy and thick-mustachioed. Imagine a cobbler... what you picture in your mind is exactly what this guy looks like; he had on the green cobbler apron and everything. He could be typecast to play Gepetto.

Anyway, I caught the bus to the airport, wound my way through the behind-the-scenes hallways of the airport to the corporate offices, spoke with the man who answered my question and then had to wait almost an hour for the bus. I had the same bus driver as my ride there and we joked a bit about my quick trip to Cancun and he warned me that the bus would fill up with the after-work light-industrial workers. By the time we got downtown, it was standing room only with exhausted factory floor workers. It was a long trip back downtown.

By the time I got back downtown I figured there was no point in paying for another bus ride and walking in the cold dark home from the bus stop since Hammy would be leaving work soon. I called him and waited at the library for him to pick me up. Declan was hanging out downtown with a friend of his, so he met me at the library.

I have to say, I LOVE being with Declan in public simply because people look at us with such a funny range of emotion. Declan looks like a punk. He has a thick mohawk pulled back in a short ponytail. He wears a leather biker jacket with a big red anarchy symbol painted on it. He has chains dangling off his clothes. He looks angry and intimidating. I'm his mom. I look like a mom. We're standing together talking, comfortable. People look at us with fear, horror, curiosity, amusement, bewilderment all in equal measures. Mothers of younger sons are the one's who look horrified as if they are thinking "what if...?!" I love my son and am proud that he is finding his own way, expressing himself as the individual he is. He wouldn't be caught dead wearing a corporate logo, which warms my heart no end.

Anyway, I'd been planning on being away from home fewer than 4 hours. Zed is 12, almost 13. He is a good babysitter and capable of handling things at our house for an afternoon. I felt really uncomfortable, though, when I got home 6 1/2 hours after I left. When buses don't run on schedule, it can really mess things up. I'd been thinking I might try to work this next project without a car, since it's mainly Mon-Fri 9-5 hours contacting businesses but I see that our bus system is not reliable enough to allow me to do that. I'm going to have to either borrow my dad's truck again or we're going to have to buy a car. I don't want to do either but I don't see any other choice. I could get a scooter but that doesn't really work for me in the bad winter weather (which, admittedly, we have little of around here) nor does it help with getting the kids around.

Oh, and I got a letter from the human resources department at work saying that I have been approved for a substantial raise beginning in the new year. Yowza! I will be making more than I ever imagined I could make in this kind of job. If I were to work full-time, I'd actually be making a livable (albeit modest) wage. The raise has certainly put looking for a new job on the back-burner for the immediate future.

1 comment:

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