I have long been a huge advocate of European public transportation systems. Outside of New York and maybe Chicago – although even these have their limitations – American public transportation systems suck. Part of it is we have a lot of ground to cover. Part of it is our dependance and love affair with cars. After all it was Ford who brought the car to the masses.
When I lived in London, I preferred taking the Underground and walking to where I needed to be. I would occasionally take the bus but not often. The same holds true for Bordeaux. When given the choice I will take the tram or even one of the city’s public rental bikes over the bus. The logic behind this is two fold – for the most part the tram is faster and in addition, if you are in an unfamiliar portion of the city it can be hard to know when to ask the driver to stop.
But to get to my internship I take the bus about 25 kilometers outside of Bordeaux to the little village of Ambes. Fairly straightforward but it has been a series of adventures.
Most days the tram is very reliable. But on two notable occasions I have found myself running (or at least walking really quickly and stridently) across the city to compensate for delays or line closures. (And there was the whole IKEA debacle but that is a different story.) It’s amazing how you can be very hot and freezing cold all at the same time.
In the mornings the bus is very prompt if not a few minutes early. As it is the start of the line the bus does hold departure. Except for Friday morning. Friday morning the bus left about 5 minutes early. I was just stepping off the tram and had to jog across the little square and wave to the driver to ask him to hold the door for me. But I made it.
Now as the company offices are located so far outside the city a significant number of employees take the bus. Normally we have at least one or two other employees with us on the bus. Which as proven to be very helpful as we are still trying to learn to identify the landmarks that queue the magic stop request button push. I’m getting better but I still have to pay very careful attention.
On this particular Friday morning, not only did the bus leave early but it deviated from its normal route. Of course…unbeknownst to me and my commuting buddy AM (yes that’s right another one). Apparently as we were boarding this morning the driver felt it was unnecessary to mention to us that there were road works and part of the road was closed down. So imagine the alarm when two of our fellow employees disembarked a fair distance from the office without saying anything to either of us. A very heartfelt thank you for the lovely woman sitting behind us to understood our distress and explained the situation. She even convinced the driver to make an unscheduled stop and let us off the bus before we got off course. But what next? I knew where I was and I could find my way to the office as needed but it was a) very cold, b) quite a distance and c) I was wearing heels. So we called in a favor and the other intern left the office to come pick us up. (Another very heartfelt thank you ML.)
Now the big question is: what about next week? What adventures will the morning commute bring?