Friday, September 14, 2007

Life lessons from jerk bus driver

Now, I might be one of the most patient people you know.

That said... read the following and you'll imagine how I "almost" got to the breaking point today (and the "breaking point" for a calm Canadian like myself is yelling "arrrghhhhhh" at a moderate decibel level so as to not ruin anyone else's day by subjecting them to an unnecessary fit/display of annoyance.)

I am always really a happy guy, so stuff like this generally bounces off me. But, in this week of thought and reflection between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, I think it's a pretty valid time to question why some people suck. If the purpose of this week is to think about how I can improve myself in the coming year, maybe I can analyze why I almost tore my hair out like 100 times today, and use this knowledge to my advantage - if these things annoy me when other people do them to me, I certainly should never do these things to other people. :)

Anyway... here's the gloriously frustrating story of my transportation woes today.

I got up at 8:00am and was planning on getting to the Synagogue for 8:45am when the morning Rosh Hashannah service started. There are a LOT of people attending this place (2500 families) and so I kindof expected it to start actually AT 8:45, not at 8:45 (Jewish Time) which means add 30 min or so. :)

Anyway I decided to take the bus along the main road towards the Shul so I could sleep in a bit longer and not walk (since the walk is a pretty decent distance)... anyway I jumped on what looked like the right bus. I checked out the map, and it went right past the Shul. So off I go.

As we pull up to my stop, I ring the bell, and the bus is still going. Someone beside me said, "Sorry man, this is the express!" I went up and asked the bus driver when the next stop was "Downtown", he said. Ahh crap. So I was about to take a 45 min adventure, and miss half of the morning Rosh Hashannah service. I near-pleaded with the bus driver to let me out anyway. We were even at the curb AND at a stop light. All he had to do was open the door. I said something to the effect of, "I am going to be late for Synagogue, and it's right there. Is there any way you can let me off, sir?" I even had my Kippah on (so I was clearly telling the truth about needing to get to the Synagogue)... and he said, "Sorry, next stop is downtown." Didn't even stop to really apologize, or pretend to care about the hassle he was causing me. Arrrrrrrghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!! We were RIGHT there.

Anyway, I stayed on the bus for the entire route, got off downtown (my relative annoyance made me so angry that I decided - after some thought, mind you - to NOT say thank you or have a nice day when leaving the bus... haha I am SO Canadian)... I schlepped to the other bus stop and went all the way back. This time I checked with the driver to make sure he was going to the right place.

Arrrrgggggggh. But, bad stuff always turns around for the better. I got to the Shul and turns out the service was quite a bit longer than expected, and so I was still there for about an hour and a half which is good.

So that was the crazyness this morning.

Now, this afternoon, I left work early to catch the bus all the way to Ocean Beach and Judah to meet some people from the JCC for Taschlich, which is a really important tradition for the holidays. I was REALLY excited to meet these people, it sounded like a great bunch of people, and we were going to chill afterwards and get some drinks and continue chatting. Sounded AWESOME. But the email said we should arrive at 5pm and please be prompt... since they weren't going to wait around at the meeting spot.

So I left super early. Rushing to get stuff done in time, I then took off and waited for the bus. And waited... and waited. Every second ticking on the clock made me wonder if I should call a cab. After waiting for almost 20 minutes (the bus should have come 5 minutes after I got there) - I gave up and called a cab. The cabbie didn't know the address I was giving him, so I had to give him another one, and jog there in the heat. Then I waited... and waited. There was another cabbie there, but he was eating his lunch and said he was waiting for someone. 25 min later, it was 5:45pm and I figured I'd better get a cab in 5 minutes or I'd definitely be too late to get there in time. It was at least a 15 or 20 min cab ride to where I needed to go. So I ran to the main street, and was hoping to flag down a cab. Just as I got there, my phone rang. The automated message from the cab company, saying my cab had arrived. Arrrrrrgh!!!!!! So I ran BACK to the place where I was originally waiting for ages. As I was running the cab passed me and didn't stop. Then I ran to the place where I was going to pick it up, saw him pull in, wait for about 2 seconds, pick up SOMEONE ELSE and take off. Arrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!!

The nice security guard said he thought I'd given up on the cab, and he said it just didn't look like my day for transportation!! Haha, no kidding.

So at this point I was totally fed up. I had tried SO HARD for an hour, just to get to a place 15 or 20 min away, through 2 different types of transit, and neither worked at all. So so so so so frustrating. So I got on the free bus, ready to give up and go home, and delay the important tradition I was going to do today. Then, on the bus home, I remember they said at the Shul this morning that Taschlich was also happening at 5pm, at the place where I was going to get off the bus anyway!!!!!! Wait a second!! So I decided to switch my plans mid-bus ride and go to the other place. I got there, and it was super cool. Beautiful view, nice people, a few Rabbis on guitars, a violin, a mandolin, (hehe, it's a Reform Shul), playing Hebrew traditional songs with a bit of a jazzy remix and everyone singing and clapping. Awesome. There must have been 200 people there at least!!

So my major annoyance of the day ended up turning out well. I was still kinda arrgh though so on the way home I treated myself to Bubble Tea and some Indian Food to make myself feel better. :)

So what can I learn from all of this?

Well... don't rely on the bus if you REALLY need to get somewhere at a certain time. But also, don't rely on a Cab either, unless you plan it in advance.

But more in terms of personal interaction today... what sucked? When the dude wouldn't let me off the bus this morning. Maybe cause of some weird legal thing where they can't let you off at a bus stop that's not a real bus stop. I don't know. That's just my justification cause I am too Canadian to just call the guy a huge jerk. Also, the annoyance of being really excited for something, and planning it all out, and then it doens't work out due to factors out of your control.

The first part: well that's easy. If I don't want to cause other people the kind of strife I had today, I should be sure to analyze a situation. It may not be just what's on the surface. If someone asks me to do something for them, perhaps the first superficial reason ("Oh, this guy just wants me to make a special stop for him that's not on the route") is not the reason why they asked me to do them a favour. More likely, it's something important that they didn't say ("It's Jewish New Year, and I don't want to miss the entire service, and I don't want to walk in late to a brand new Synagogue I've only been to once before, and I want to meet some people beforehand, and so on.") People ask for help when they need it... sometimes when they really need it. And often you can help SO easily. Like the bus driver just needed to reach over and open the door. It would have taken 2 seconds. And then I wouldn't have had such a stressful and tiring morning. But he didn't, and that sucked.

So this, I reckon, is enough of a lesson in itself... that you can make or break someone's ENTIRE DAY in 2 seconds, by doing or not doing something. Pretty powerful idea I think.

And the other thing, well, I get excited about stuff. And I've seen so many of those "Life's Little Instructions" books recommending that you DON'T expect things from people, and you DON'T plan for things, and then you'll be pleasantly surprised if things work out. I have never agreed with that. I think you need to expect great things from people, and plan for huge, big, amazing things. If you do that, often these things actually DO work out and DO turn out right. So the stress this afternoon... I think I'll just blame it on the stress from earlier this morning.

It all comes back to the 2 seconds it would have taken for the bus driver to open the door for me.

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