Early Sunday morning.
Dad pulls out his phone to double check the route. “It’s not close, but it should be easy,” he’s telling Mom. “We’ll just take the train up and—
Instantly, Dad is throwing stuff into a duffel bag and yelling, “Where’s your other lacrosse glove, Charlie?”
“What’s going on?”
“We have to leave five minutes ago!”
A straightforward subway ride to the outer boroughs has turned into a different subway trip, plus a bus transfer, then a hike to get to a lacrosse clinic in the Bronx.
The upper east side subway platform is empty. After ten minutes of contemplating just running back outside and ordering Uber, a train comes. In the Bronx, it goes elevated and they can see their bus sitting below as the train rattles slowly toward the next stop.
“Don’t leave yet. Don’t leave yet,” Dad is saying under his breath as they crash through the subway turnstiles and down the (wrong) stairs and then must cross the street.
But the bus hasn’t left. The bus driver isn’t even there. It is both the end and the start of the route, and he’s on a break. Somewhere.
“I’m hungry,” says Charlie, and Dad can picture exactly where he left the bagel and granola bars on the kitchen counter.
There’s a McDonald’s a block away, but dad doesn’t want to be caught over there when the driver comes back and begins the route that only runs on the half hour on weekends. So, Charlie has a Snickers from the newspaper stand.
There are a few other folks sitting on benches near the bus, and when the driver returns, they clamber aboard and spread out. Dad, Roo, and Charlie take the back row.
At first Dad gets a small fright as the bus turns left (was expecting right!) and seems to drive in the completely opposite direction from their destination. But the bus makes a series of right turns and the dot on dad’s maps app is showing progress.
It’s a slow bus and stops often. Soon there are only two other passengers. The bus keeps stopping at every bus stop. No one gets on. No one gets off.
Dad keeps checking the time.
The bus will look poised to cruise right through a green light, but then stop at an empty bus stop, open the doors, close the doors, miss the light, sit.
“Is this how buses run in the Bronx?” Dad wonders.
A few people get on near a hospital. Then the bus stops again at two vacant corners. Stop. Open doors. Close doors. No one in. No one out. “What the heck is going on?!” Dad’s mind is screaming as time melts away.
Dad is frantically checking his phone. “Are they close enough to jump out and run?”
Then he sees it.
Charlie’s hand, which appeared to just be grasping the pole, is not just grasping the pole.
“Have you been pressing that button the whole time!?”
Charlie shrugs, “I guess so.”
“Well, stop it,” Dad says aloud while internally swearing then just laughing and marveling at the tolerance of the bus driver to just keep stopping, opening the doors, closing the doors (neither gaining nor losing a passenger) at every single stop since the route began.
The bus cruises right past the next three empty stops, and Dad says to Charlie, “Alright, you can press it now.”
The “Stop Requested” signal silently lights up at the front of the bus.