03 July 2008

Riding Da Bus

The Hyatt was kind enough to give me Thursday off this last week. Friday would have been ideal as well, but considering they were sold out (966 rooms, and actually, several overbooked), they needed all the housekeepers they could get. Stay-overs are pretty easy to clean, but I'm anticipating that Monday won't be extremely pleasant when everyone has checked out and we have a bunch of empty rooms to clean.

Anyway, so I'm quite delighted to have Thursday off. I get up early and figure I'll just take a nap later in the afternoon. After breakfast, I throw my laundry in -- needing quarters, I put my dollar in the pop machine and hit the "return change" button; apparently there is no change in the machine and it gives me nothing. I figure I could buy a drink, but everything costs $1.25 or more, and I'm out of money; someone gets a cheap drink later -- I borrowed one of my roommates' quarters until I could get some more.

At 10:30, I catch a ride to St. John's Town Center with Nate, who is heading to work at Adventure Landing. He drops me off at Panera, where I spend nearly two hours reading and journaling. The strawberry smoothies look amazing, but I'm still full from breakfast. I wandered next door to Hallmark (I love greeting cards) and pick up a birthday card for my dad and a random fun card for my roommate Staci. (Front: I would totally throw myself on a bee for you. Inside: Totally.) Then I head to Barnes & Noble, another favorite store, and browse through the books, unable to remember the title or author of a book I was interested in. So I browse through John Piper (always a good choice) and grab a copy of When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy. This isn't because I feel like not having joy is a personal problem, but it's an everyone problem. I like how Piper puts it in the introduction:

When all is said and done, only God can create joy in God. To be satisfied by the beauty of God does not come naturally to sinful people. By nature we get more pleasure from God's gifts than from himself. Therefore this book calls for deep and radical change--which only God can give.

So I'm pretty excited to get into that and see how God wants to bring me satisfaction in Him, rather than me finding satisfaction in His gifts. So next I go to Target and pick up a couple things. It's freezing in the UNF dorms, so I want to buy some sweatpants. Who'd have known, there seems to be no sweatpants (guys or womens) in Florida Targets. For lunch, I go to Arby's, which I have now declared my favorite fast-food place; 99-cent roast beef sandwiches? Arby's sauce? Amazing. My receipt has an 800 number on it to complete a survey, so I call and take the three minutes to do the survey and they give me a code for a free roast beef sandwich or cheddar melt. Sweet.

I'm about two miles from UNF, and I could walk, but it's pretty warm at 1:30pm and I've already checked online to see what the bus schedule is around here. It costs $1 to ride the bus. I've never ridden a city bus. I have no idea where the bus stop is exactly, but I know it's on the NE corner of the town center by Publix. I see one -- a sign and a bench on the other side of the six-lane road. I cross the street and sit; my bus is scheduled to come by at 1:40pm.

To make a long story short, the bus comes and the driver knows right off that I've never ridden a bus before -- I think it was the fact that I tried to hand him my $1 instead of sliding it in the little cash box that gave me away. There is another bus stop on the other side of the street and (spoiler) it's where I should have boarded. Imagine this route as a loop. Bus stop where I'm at and bus stop where I should be across the street are points A and B. Between points A and B is UNF (where I want to go). Bus passes point A, travels to UNF, then comes back by point B where it picks me up. So I'm getting on at the very beginning of the route instead of the end.

Mistake on my part: I don't tell the driver where I want to go. I've got in my head that this thing must just make a small loop between UNF and St. John's Town Center all day. Wrong.

This bus begins heading west (wait... I need to go east - east! Go back...) but I'm being optimistic and thinking it'll just be a matter of minutes before we turn around and go back by UNF. --Note that UNF is just two miles from the town center. I could have easily made the walk in 30 minutes, but since the bus was only $1, and it's a bit warm in Florida at 2pm, I want to take the bus. -- But the bus keeps going. South and west and through residential neighborhoods. We pass Crossroads, where we have our Monday night theme rallies. Then Southside Baptist Church; some of the students with us go there on Sundays. Then I start seeing downtown. Oh lovely, there's the Hyatt. The Museum of Science and History. St. John's River. We're probably a good 30 minutes from UNF, but with all the stops we're making it's taken us about an hour to get out here.

The bus pulls up to what looks like the main bus station (there are many other buses and lots of people standing around). Our driver gets off and after awhile, a new one gets on. We drive right by the City Rescue Mission, which is interesting because I've heard their commercials on the radio and now I'm seeing it for myself. Jax has 3,000 homeless people, according to the radio. When we finally get going, we are heading east again, and my hope is increasing. I've been on that bus for 85 minutes. Our bus does not take major highways, simply side access roads, which I infer greatly affected the amount of time it's taking us to get from downtown back to UNF. We stop -- at Sonic. Our driver gets off and announces, "I'll be back in six. Six minutes!" And he proceeds to exit the bus and buy himself a drink at Sonic.

Now these are my surroundings: a thin blonde woman across from me with long hair, looking like she may be a waitress or something, sitting semi-sideways in her chair, which faces toward the middle of the bus, but she's trying to look out the front window. A woman with brown hair sitting to my right; her chair is perpendicular to mine, facing the front, and she's texting away on her cell phone before she gets a call and starts sighing and breathing really heavy and making weird noises, and I'm partially feeling like I should ask this woman if she is okay, if she wants me to pray with her or something, until I hear her next conversation with one of her best friends about how her ex-boyfriend keeps texting her and how she's so tempted to go back to him but she knows she shouldn't do that to her husband. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Are you for real? I wanted to shake this woman... and then pray for her. There are several seats in the back with a couple people who are conversing loudly, and I seem to be sitting directly under the A/C vent and it's probably 50-degree air coming out of there. I'm freezing! It felt good when I first got on, but now, not so much. Fortunately when I stopped at Target earlier, I bought a blue, hooded jacket. I slip that on.

Fast forward to about 4:15pm. The bus finally heads back by the town center and to UNF. The first place it stops is at the UNF Library. I have no idea if it will even stop again on campus, so, not wanting to take any chances, I get off, glad to be standing and in warm air. But now, I'm on the other side of campus, probably a good 0.5-1.0 mile from the dorms. So I trek back. I arrive by 4:30- hot, tired, and hungry. (Not a good combination. ps. the Jax buses don't allow eating or drinking; I had already sipped from my waterbottle a couple of times before I noticed the sign.)

All in all, there was my 2.5 hour tour of Jacksonville from a bus for $1. Woot.


Andrew said...

I think that is the cheapest ride per mile that anyone ever had!

Anonymous said...

Good thing you weren't due somewhere! At least you made the best of it.

JR said...

Sounds like a fun trip. You should go deep sea fishing while you're there.

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