According to New Jersey Transit, rates for services will go up by 9 percent in October. I may still be on this bus by then. It was like many evening commutes–late. My usual driver didn’t make it to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and a new driver pulled up tardy. Par for the course. After about an hour on the bus, I realized we were still on the Garden State Parkway, locally known as the Garden State “Parking Lot.” I texted my wife who told me there had been an accident, so that would explain things. We crept along. I read on the bus. I can’t stand just sitting for a two hour commute, staring out the window. My stomach started rumbling. I had to pee. These things don’t usually happen on the trip, since I take care of the latter before I leave work. But this bus is cold, and you know how it is in winter…
Glancing out the window, I realized we’d driven into the Twilight Zone. I had no idea where we were. I pulled out my phone and opened the Google Maps app. We were in Irvington, about 20 miles off course. Widening out the map, I could see no way even to reach highway 22 from where we were. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a kangaroo come hopping by. At this point I realized that in less than 12 hours I’d be back on a bus in the opposite direction. I hadn’t had supper or sleep, but maybe I should just stay the night? We are very well acquainted, this bus and I. With a shudder I remember that the driver got out to pee before he started this run. Did he have an alternate plan?



Now I’m not one to tell a driver how to do his job, and I was, I suppose, secretly cheering him on in his personal quest to find the Northwest Passage. When we finally came to the first stop I became a believer in miracles. It was 7:30, and I had another hour to home. It occurred to me that New Jersey Transit must be raising its fares to pay for the extra gas. Who wouldn’t want to see Elizabeth in the evening? Or at least smell it? There are no toilets on NJ Transit buses. Maybe that accounts for the smell. I’ve been riding New Jersey Transit for four years now, not always contiguously, and I’ve had some epic commutes. A simple accident leading to a three-and-a-half hour trip home was some kind of new record. A personal best for the driver. Get Guinness on the phone, and get one out of the fridge. I still need a bathroom. That can wait. The only thing that really matters is that life is a journey. And for those of us with unpaid past sins, it’s a journey on New Jersey Transit.

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