An Unexpected Late-Night Run

For as long as I can remember, I’ve promised my girlfriend Brianna that I would be there for her graduation from BU. It’s only fair; she spent an entire day going through the same two-ceremony schpeel, and with a no-name speaker at the big graduation. At least somebody actually important is speaking on behalf of the Class of 2012 (former Google CEO Eric Schmidt). My commencement speaker was Mike Capuano. (Exactly.)

Anyway, it’s often hard for Brianna and I to see each other during the baseball season. In the winter, hockey games are pretty much exclusively on weekends, so I’m around weeknights for her, my friends, and some downtime to myself, even when I’m working for Hill Holliday. There’s no such luck in the summer though. As a result, I see her on off-days and the few times we have early games at home. Today (now technically Sunday) is none of the above.

I picked one of my former broadcast partners and friends to call tomorrow’s Worcester Tornadoes game from Newark, but there was an issue between the internet network and our equipment that can’t be resolved in time. Such is the life in independent baseball. We even had trouble with today’s broadcast, as it lasted only a few innings before the problem arose. So now I’m sitting on a Peter Pan Bus destined for Boston via Worcester at quarter of one in the morning.

The commute to Port Authority in New York City was similar to my luck with the internet at the ballpark tonight: it had the potential to be disastrous. Luckily that potential didn’t become a reality, but it did become one hell of a stresser (and that’s saying a lot, now that Jose Canseco has so much media attention with us).

I’m not one to complain online, but the Ramada Plaza near the Newark Airport is worthy of it. I won’t get into all of the details, but they didn’t exactly help me find a cab, or give me an accurate estimation of how much time it would take to get across the Great (Water) Wall of Hudson.

I hopped in a cab at 11:15pm, with my bus scheduled for 12:15. Most of the ride was smooth, but there were a few toll-based hiccups. The taxi didn’t have an EZ-Pass, so we had to use cash to get through. After a sufficient amount of stopping and starting, car horns in the background and minor internal panic on my part, we emerged on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel.

The cab driver explained to me how he would drop me off, but before he did, he’d pull over to swipe my credit card at a less traffic-laden location.He failed to explain that he had no idea how to operate the app on his phone that charges credit cards. He fumbled with it, trying to enter my card number three times. Then, he asked me to read the numbers back to him instead. After he put the tip in as part of the total bill, he decided starting over would be more convenient. After he finally had me sign a receipt, it was 12:04, and he misplaced my credit card in the front seat.

Because of the canceled Sunday broadcast, I had three times as much luggage as I was planning on lugging through the vast hallways of the Port Authority. (It’s a good thing they’re vast, and I’ll explain why later.)

I finally got my card back, and we pulled right into a red light. The taxi driver told me to get out, so I ran to the back and flung my computer bag, backpack and equipment suitcase out onto the sidewalk, then went into an all-out sprint.

By a small stroke of luck, my game of Frogger didn’t last long. There weren’t all that many cars on the street at the time, so I made it into the building without another hitch. I didn’t really have time to pull my phone out of my guarded pocket to check the time, so let your imagination run wild with what it may have been at that point.

Someone wearing a Lebron James jersey held a door at the main entrance open for me. I guess wearing his name on your back doesn’t make you an inherent asshole after all. It was tough finding a directory, and once I found a couple of them, they didn’t directorme to the Peter Pan/Greyhound Terminals. There goes another 30 seconds or so. I looked up and happened to see a sign for buses going to Providence, Rhode Island. Sweet, I thought. I’m close. I wasn’t.

It was the wrong section, so I turned around and a few items jumped out of my backpack. First, a bottle of hotel shampoo I didn’t even realize I took. (Sorry for whoever cleans up there, but I didn’t stop for it.) A few people looked on as more toiletries and then a pair of boxers escaped my Jansport. They gave me a verbal heads up, so I turned around and finally realized what had happened. I grabbed everything in one hand and headed away running. There’s another 30 seconds or so.

I asked an employee standing around where the Peter Pan Bus to Boston was, and he motioned toward Gate 61. I was at 25. I dashed to 61, only to be worried again when I came to a spot with a bunch of people waiting for the Binghamton Bus. Another employee mentioned Gate 84, which was just around one corner because of how tightly packed the terminals can be. A clock above me read 12:14.

I looked through the window of a gate and saw two buses: a Peter Pan and a Greyhound. Since they’re one in the same, I thought I had a coin flip’s chance of making the right choice. If you believe the stories about the shape making an aerodynamic difference, I picked the equivalent of tails. Phew.

I asked all the people in front of me (only a couple left plus the driver) if this was the Boston Bus, and the driver said yes. I could finally exhale. (And I had time to realize how much of a literal rambling idiot I must have seemed, now in a full sweat.

It’s been almost a whole hour since the bus left, meaning my adventure is just two hours old at the time of this writing. It certainly went by fast. I’m glad the bus didn’t do the same to me.

Barring an act of The Big Guy Upstairs or the Universe– whichever you prefer– I’ll be at Brianna’s graduation on time; maybe a bit sleep-deprived, but on time. It may not be a very relaxing day, but I don’t plan on doing any running around.

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