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Wednesday, June 16, 2004  

Catching the 21A

One of Trash's coworkers, BB, was kind enough to write a guest entry and thus give me a day off. So no Humpblog this week. Or maybe it'll be on Friday. Who knows? I'm as predictable as the wind, you know.

And now, over to BB.

My morning routine is precariously tight. I’ve got to catch the 21A at 7:06 or I won’t make my connection at 35W, which would mean the slow boat to Edina where I work. 90 minutes instead of 50 and lost productivity since I’m very much a morning person. Not only is there no time for breakfast at home, but if I were to eat, it would hinder my ability to run the three blocks from my house up to Lake Street. I never have time to walk, but if I leave at 7:00 I can get by with a jog. 7:01 to 7:02 means a regular run, 7:03 means I’m running at a sub-five minute mile pace before the screen door even slams. On those days, I run right in the street so I don’t have to waste time clearing curbs and everyone knows tar is more forgiving than concrete on the legs – plus it’s nice and smooth compared to sidewalks in the Longfellow neighborhood.

My guess is there are about 20-25 households who make sure to be looking out their windows onto 45th avenue right around 7:00 so they can see me go by, dressed for work (nice shoes, sometimes a flapping tie, slacks, ironed shirt), but hoofing right down the middle of the freaking road. I would give anything to see one of my neighbors do this right off the bat every morning. I would leap out of bed and position myself at the breakfast table anticipating the daily 45th Avenue bizarre running event. The worst is when I don’t just have my bag, a soft-sided briefcase type affair with two broken zippers, but I also have a little Victoria’s Secret bag with my lunch, brunch, snacks and breakfast. Running technique is compromised with two bags and performance suffers considerably. Try it if you don’t believe me. Break into a fast run, then add a couple of bags and maintain the same brisk pace. See? Impossible.

When I get to Lake, I glance quickly at my watch to see if I have time to run into SuperAmerica to fill my LL Bean marine grade stainless steel travel mug with blazing hot tea water. It normally takes about 28 seconds to drop my bags on the dirty floor next, pull the Black Awake Tazo tea bag from my shirt pocket, rip it open, tear off the tag, drop the tea bag into the cup and then that beautiful orange lever that says Pull for Hot Water, cap the cup, scoop up my tea bag packaging scraps, drop them in the trash, grab my bags and go baby go. However, I need my space and I need to have the mind of a Samurai -- if one little thing goes wrong, I am screwed. Somebody drops his doughnut-of-the-week and blocks my path while trying to retrieve it with a sheet of wax paper? Not OK and I don’t feel good about screaming, “Out of my way damnit!” right away in the morning. I fumble for my tea in all pockets and then have to resort to my auxiliary stash deep in the front pocket of my briefcase. 13 seconds lost. The SA stop is critical because if I don’t get my tea, there will be nothing to wash down my almond butter and jelly at my 35W stop. And the 35W bus stop without tea would be unbearably depressing with all that garbage swirling at my feet and the four lanes of traffic streaming by on their way to Southdale or wherever they’re going.

One morning I botched it or almost botched it. I trotted across SA’s oil-stained cement and looked at my watch. 7:04:12. I’m just fine. Even felt cocky enough to stop and read the Pioneer Press headlines on my way out. Since I like current events, I must’ve gotten sucked in, cuz when I looked up there it sailed down Lake at 30+ miles per hour. Shit! Let’s go baby. I leapt past the firewood display and hit the concrete apron at a full sprint, compromised by the fact that my briefcase was, as usual in my left hand, but now I had my precious LL Bean mug in my right and there was no time to consolidate. My dress shoes made a dramatic and important sounding noise as they tried to get traction across the gritty cement. SA is on 44th and before I knew it I was blowing by the old Molly Quinn’s on 43rd now running full bore like Lola in Run Lola Run. But Lola just ran, I bellowed as I ran, “Wait! Hold the bus!” in an animal-like voice that frightened even me and probably woke a great deal of both the Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods. But buses are loud and the driver, who makes all the decisions, sits way up front another 30 feet away from me. Shit. Go baby go. This will never happen again – I shit you not – tomorrow I’m getting up by 5am. At age 39, I’m not as fast as I was even 5 years ago. But for a middle-aged guy in his work clothes, burdened by a bag and a full mug, I can really move out. Especially when the alternative is a royal hassle getting to work.

I’d just about catch him as he would pull over to pick somebody up, then he’d pull away again like a dull, lumbering beast weaving its way down Lake Street. I, however, was moving with purpose like a svelte hyena pursuing an injured wildebeest. Of the wide variety of thoughts racing through my mind, one was “ If I could only leap onto the back bumper I could pound like hell on the side of the bus with my mug and maybe an alert passenger would hear me and suggest that the bus driver pull over to investigate.” Now I didn’t even recognize what part of Lake I was on after 5 rounds of cat and mouse where the bus would leave me 50 feet back only to leave me in a hot blast of diesel exhaust. Breathing hard, like I had just finished a series of quarter mile intervals on the track, I bagged it and reviewed my options.

Thinking nimbly despite the lack of Black Awake in my system, I wiped the cold weather tears from my cheeks and started a modified hitchhiking routine. Westbound cars would pull up to the stop light right near Tires Plus, and I would simply walk into Lake street and inquire as to the possibility of joining them for a few blocks until we caught that 21 up there in the distance. After a raft of “No, sorry’s” and even people ignoring me completely, I met my man. My savior was a hefty fellow in a sagging Chevy Lumina with a back seat full of flyers to deliver. We didn’t talk much really. All he needed was the challenge to catch that bus and it was all business. He drove like Darrell Waltrip at Talladega in pursuit of that bus. “Come on baaaby!” I shrieked slapping him on the quadriceps, “Go, go, go baby! Go!” I kid you not. He cut the 21 off directly in front of Minnehaha Liquors – the bus did not even make it to Target. I thanked him, praised his driving, and waltzed onto the bus as if my brother-in-law decided to simply drop me off on his way to the office. Nothing more. I sat down next to a two-pack-a-day smoker and wiped the sweat from my brow. That was close.

Today's best search phrase: "Calvin and Hobbes peeing on Strat." Obviously this would be a karmic home run, but what surprises me is how many other results there are for this phrase.

posted by M. Giant 6:08 PM 0 comments


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