This morning was as normal as ever until I got to the bus stop at the bottom of our road. The school crossing lady approached me and gave me an extraordinarily detailed breakdown of the state of the region as part of a general warning that the usual commute would be less than straightforward today. All routes from where we were into Center City were blocked by floodwater, mudslides or the resultant traffic. The trains were stopped, the expressway was closed…in fact the bus I was waiting for, the 62, had the only viable way in: along Ridge Avenue – a long, miserable, busy route. But for me, this was fine: I have a book to finish and care not the slightest about sitting on an air-conditioned bus for a couple of hours.
As I waited by the almost stationary traffic, the usual punters arrived and were given their updated briefing by the de-facto Emergency Response Team. By now, she had received many updates by her people in the field (a friend on the previous 62 who was still stuck on Ridge Avenue, and a few other drivers in the road. ) The service we were being provided with, free, by the School Crossing Guard made me wonder whether she was perhaps a Socialist infiltrator. Obviously I reported her to the local teabag militia as soon as I could.
The 62 arrived shortly, and I settled in for a long drive. The bus filled to capacity very quickly and by the time we were at Shurs lane (the start of the flood related detour that’s about a 20 minute walk from my front door), 45 minutes had elapsed. Every few 1 meter-shuffles the bus made, one of the passengers decided to disembark out of frustration. After the comprehensive rundown of the problems, explained to me by the crossing lady, I knew there was NO other option than to sit on the bus, and so found it funny that people were willing to give yet another option a try. The temptation to shout “SPLITTERS!” as they alighted was only quelled by the knowledge that no-one else on the bus would know what the fuck I was talking about. We continued, and the brave few were augmented by other poor bastards desperate to go…anywhere.
What always astonishes me about emergencies is how well the mobile phone companies do out of it. Every single person in sight was obviously off to work, and it’s certain that around 99% of them, like me, do something of absolutely no use to mankind, but EVERYONE calls the boss to explain they will be late to do their vitally important job. Listening in to others’ conversations it becomes apparent that the responses from the twats who got in early range from “whatever! why are you telling me?” right up to “well I’m going to have to deduct a days pay because those TPS reports don’t write themselves.” And overall it strikes me as a bit fucking weird that we’re all on this bus to wanksville, when we could be doing something useful instead. So I laugh.
After an hour and a half, we had reached Wissahickon – a good 30 minute walk from my house. Suddenly people started getting up from their seats to stand in the aisle, point ahead, and say “oh my god” repeatedly. The bus pulled over. The driver got out to find out what was going on. After a while everyone got off of the bus in order to rubberneck the scene which, predictably, involved the road being flooded. But this was very unusual – the creek fed into the river at this point, and the level was so high it was level with the road.
The boss told me it was probably better to work from home and it didn’t take long to realise the only way back there was going to be a long walk, uphill, in the rain. I got home at 10:45 (after leaving home at 7:30), soaked, knackered, sweaty (it’s still warm and muggy), and irritated. The only good aspect was that I stopped to pick up a hoagie from the ropey looking deli on Lyceum Ave, and it turned out to be really rather good.