“The Electric City”

DA-DA! Cue the Star Wars intro music as the next two paragraph move up your screen. I learned that despite being 20 minutes away from each other, Wilkes-Barre and Scranton Pennsylvania are galaxies apart:

Scranton is known as “The Electric City” for being the birthplace of the electric rail car, but shuttles, taxis and buses aren’t exactly its thing…

 

This was the play-by-play of the traveling I did this weekend, complete with timestamps from phone calls, texts and internal expletives. I didn’t have enough vacation time from my full-time job to take the Providence Bruins bus to Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, so I went on Friday instead, with games on Friday night and Saturday night.

 

**********

 

May 5, 8:12 pm: I print my tickets for the first day of my trip: Boston to NYC and NYC to Scranton. The website told me I could not print my ticket from Providence to Boston. It was a message from Greyhound, so I knew it was that my printer wasn’t working.

 

May 8, 1:19 pm: During a lunch break at work, I decline a party invite on Facebook for Saturday, since I’ll be away for the weekend. Since I know the host loves The Office, I comment, “Unfortunately I’ll be stuck in the birthplace of The Office. Have fun!” I also send a sarcastic text to the P-Bruins trainer, doing an impression of him, since he does whiny impressions of people. “MEHH! I’m Wolfman [my nickname to P-Bruins people]! I don’t take the bus!”

 

May 9, 9:00 am: The Greyhound bus leaves on-time from Boston.

 

1:55 pm: The bus gets to New York City five minutes early. Good start to the day!

 

3:17: The P-Bruins bus driver Kenny says he would pick me up once I get to Scranton, but the timing won’t work.

 

4:37: I arrive in Scranton and get off the bus. I immediately call the Hilton Garden Inn in Wilkes-Barre to come pick me up, telling them I am at the Martz Trailways in Scranton. (I later found out from the Penguins broadcaster that there’s an invisible wall between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, even though downtown to downtown is 20 minutes.)

 

4:39: I text my parents to let them know I’m waiting for the shuttle. I felt bad because I said I’d let them know when I left New York to make sure I made my connection, but I forgot to mention that the bus had left NYC (with me on it).

 

4:39: I text Brianna that I’m waiting for the shuttle.

 

4:54: The shuttle driver calls me and says he’s in the back with the buses. I check, and see no shuttle or bus of any kind. I get the sinking feeling he’s in Wilkes-Barre…

 

4:56: I try to call the shuttle driver back to tell him I’m in Scranton, but he doesn’t answer, and his mailbox is full.

 

4:57: I call the hotel back, and the concierge says she’ll send the driver to me. She apologizes for not telling him I was in Scranton.

 

5:00 The concierge calls me back, saying they can’t pick me up. I’m too far away. I ask her for the number of any cab companies in the area that would pick me up, and she gives me only one. Based on my previous Google searches for cabs in Wilkes-Barre, I’m not surprised.

 

5:02: I call the cab company, and they say they’ll be there in 30 minutes.

 

5:04: I text the P-Bruins equipment guy to see if tonight’s lineup is any different from last weekend, when the team had its most recent game, thinking I might not make it there in time to interview Butch Cassidy. (Yes, that’s the head coach’s name.) It’s a good thing I cut the highlights and prepared game notes on the bus from Boston to NYC.

 

5:06: Another cab company’s driver comes by, and acts confused to see me. I spend 5 minutes explaining to him the address to the arena and that the arena EXISTS, and it’s in Wilkes-Barre. He finally says that’s too far, because it’s in Wilkes-Barre. I also asked if I could pay by card, and he said I couldn’t.

 

5:09: Knowing I might not have enough cash to pay for a cab ride, I call the other company back and ask it they accept cards. Of course they don’t. It’s time to find an ATM!

 

5:11: I ask a guy at the bus station about the closest ATM, and he says there’s probably one in the mall across the street and down a block.

 

5:12: I go further down the road and ask a lady the same question, and she says the same thing.

 

5:13: Kenny asks if I made it to the rink yet. (It’s called Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Is that wordy enough for you?) Kenny adds that it’s strange that there are no cabs at this bus station. I told him about the cab driver from the other company too. Kenny was amazed the guy wouldn’t go to the town next door.

 

5:14: I get to the mall and go in, finding an ATM right by the front door. I didn’t know if the cab would come early, so I rushed in and out just in case.

 

5:16: I’m back in my original place, hoping the cab didn’t come while I was away.

 

5:17: I heard from Brianna again. She asked if the shuttle had picked me up yet. I explained the situation without worrying, because I’m still only 20 minutes away from the rink.

 

5:35: I have a quick phone conversation with Brianna, telling her that I’m okay but still waiting, and my phone is dying.

 

5:36: It’s been more than 30 minutes since I called for the cab, so I call back and I learn that the driver is on his way.

 

5:41: Kenny asks if I found a cab yet. I tell him the cab is 10 minutes late. Kenny says he should have come after dropping the team off, but I wouldn’t have asked him to go that far out of his way.

 

5:53: I call the cab again, and there’s another update. The driver told the dispatcher that there was a ton of traffic. He should be to me within 15 minutes or so.

 

6:01: Kenny asks where my car is. I explain how I’m getting home from Providence (a bus to Boston), and his response is “OMG WTF LOL.”

 

6:06: Brianna asks where I am again. The cab should be here any minute. She says she hopes I make the game on time. I had the same concern, despite being 15 miles away…

 

6:08: I remember that I can charge my phone by plugging it into my computer. With the cord hanging out of my computer bag, it looks like the kind of package you wouldn’t want to see unattended in a public place…

 

6:10: I see a bus come into the station that says Wilkes-Barre on it. I run around the corner WITHOUT my stuff and ask the driver if it’s going back there. He says yes, but tells me that I’d have to buy a ticket inside. I run out of time before the bus leaves, which is already 12 minutes behind schedule.

 

6:13: I wonder if there’s any other cab company around, then I remember that the only other one I heard about online was the one with confused driver I met before.

 

6:15: Coincidentally, another cab driver from that same company pulls up, but drives by me slowly, making hand signals at me for some reason. Then he drives away.

 

6:20: The right cab finally comes, one hour and fifteen minutes after I called (and exactly 45 minutes later than initially reported). I’m finally in the cab!

 

6:23: The cabbie describes the traffic he was in, and also mentions that he left his phone and GPS in the office.

 

6:28: When we get on the highway, I see the traffic. The driver thinks it goes all the way back to Wilkes-Barre. We see FOUR cars in a one-mile stretch trying to take a u-turn onto the other side of the highway.

 

6:37: We pull up to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. A security guard walks out to us and lets me in without checking in first.

 

6:42: After zipping through the concourse, I make it to my spot, just behind the last row of fans on the first level. The Penguins broadcaster is already on air, and gives me a look of amazement.

 

6:51: Kenny asks if I’m here yet.  I respond that I’m in the booth (during first commercial break of the pre-game show).

 

I thought the drama was over, but that was only the trip there. I had to get back to Providence with the team, then to Boston on my own… That story is next.

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