Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adventures on the JO: Part 1

So 2 weeks ago, I got this crazy idea: I'm going to ride the bus to work. In taking on a new volunteer role for Pi Phi that adds some more responsibility (and emails!) to my daily life, I am searching for ways to get more "free" time to catch up on all my extra curricular activities that I have committed to!! When I saw an ad for the "JO", which is the Johnson County bus system, saying that they now have free Wi-Fi on their buses...I thought- that's perfect! That time I usually spend driving to work, using gas and mileage on my car, stressing about traffic---I will just sit on the bus, take my laptop and email away. And as everyone knows, it's all about efficiency these days, right? :)

I was a little nervous- ok, a LOT nervous- as I had no idea what to expect and could browse the JO website as many times as I wanted to and make sure I was getting on the right bus at the right place to get me to work. The first time I did it....not going to lie, was terrifying!! I wanted to try the Metcalf-Downtown, route 664 bus. But really had no idea A) where the pick up took place B) how I notified the driving bus to pick me up C) where to park, as I can't walk to 75th & Metcalf and really there were many more unknowns. But on a Friday morning, I got in my car and drove to the CVS at 75th and Metcalf. Drove around a few times, spotted the JO pick up sign- but there was no bench or anything. Just a sign. Ok, I can do that. But the sign was on the South side of the street..and I want to go North, so I guessed that the bus would really pick me up on the North side.

So I finally settle in the CVS parking lot and call Jimmy. I tell him that I cannot do this, I'm too nervous, I have no idea what to do/where to stand/how to breathe at this point. He laughs and tells me to calm down. In the end, I'm sitting in my car and if I don't want to get on the bus, I can just drive to work. Yes, he's right. I'm an idiot. But I make myself get out of the car and walk to the side of the street, after Jimmy reassures me that my car won't get towed 16 times. And I stand there. Waiting for the bus. The pick up time comes and goes, and about 3 minutes later, I'm still standing on the side of this busy street---wondering what people think I'm doing. I mean if I drove by me, I'd be confused.

Then FINALLY the bus arrives. I get on, put my $$ in the slot and sit down. I'm ok. I'm on the bus. I text Jimmy with a "victory" text. The bus makes it's way downtown; my stop is last, so I'm the last person on the bus. They drop me off at Crown Center, as planned at 7:59AM and I walk to my office building and sit down at my desk and sigh a sigh of relief/victory in conquering the fear of the unknown/excitement- I liked the bus.

My day proceeds to go on. And then around 4:30, I start getting nervous about the process of getting home. Since I'm unsure how all that happens (even after studying the route's 16 million times), I decide to leave at 4:45 for the 5:05 pick up, which will give me plenty of time to get down there and time myself how long it takes for future bus trips. I head down the elevator to walk across the square---and then NO, this cannot be happening. The area that I planned to walk through, that I walked through to get to work, that I walk through once a week to get to Crown Center/Panera for's BLOCKED OFF!!!!! There is a Friday night concert that you have to pay to get in and I cannot walk through. I panic. How will I get there? Will I be late? Do I run? I'm going to miss the bus!!!!!!!! I start to half jog through McGee square and realize I can go down the stairs to the left and end up in front of the Crown Center Parking garage and just walk on Grand a bit to the stop. A bit of a detour, but my only choice. I do that, and still have plenty of time. First disaster averted.

Then comes my logical reasoning. **Let me preface this, that I confused my downtown KC Federal buildings. The pick up after Crown Center on the bus schedule is the IRS building, which would cause the bus to go north on Grand, I confused that with the Federal Reserve building, which would cause the bus to go south on Grand** I start thinking of the final pick up and reason with myself, even though there is not a "JO stops here" sign on the south side, I go over there and sit down with the other MAX (KCMO bus) riders. I quickly notice how I clearly do not fit in, however I do reason with myself that it's ok and I'll get on the bus no matter what. A nice older woman sits down next to me and I think about asking if she is taking the Jo, but then wonder if that's some kind of reserve discrimination if I assume that she is taking the Jo and not the MAX because of what she looks like. So I don't. I just sit there.....

And then what do you know? I look across the street. Yep, there it is. The bus that I am supposed to be on. On the north side. I guessed/reasoned completely wrong. So I bolt up, not sure what to do, but know that I have to get on that bus because I'm not going to wait until 5:30 for the next I stand up, stick my hand out in front of the MAX that is stationary and a few cars (no time for the cross walk) and make it to the other side of the street without getting hit (WHEW). But then the bus doors are closed, but thank goodness there is plenty of traffic because it's not moving yet. So I go to the door, knock, smile and wait for it to open. I make sure I am in fact on the correct bus, insert my money and sit down. Relieved. Excited. Exhausted. But I open my book, and the rest of the trip is relaxing. Second disaster averted.

Oh no, not over yet :) Because I have to get off the bus, well of course that throws another loop hole at me. I parked on the north side of Metcalf and I get dropped off on the south side of Metcalf. Now, if it wasn't rush 75th and Metcalf...I could probably just walk across the street. Not going to happen because that street is packed at that time. So I get dropped off about 2 blocks from the intersection/cross walk and have to walk back it, wait for the signal and then cross the street. Of course, I call Jimmy and make him talk to me so I don't feel like a loser crossing the street. But then I spot my car, nope not towed, get in, immediately call my mom and relay this entire story to her and she laughs. Mission complete.

But then I am determined to never cross 75th and Metcalf at rush hour, so I need a new plan. After scouring the bus routes....I had a new plan where I don't even have to get in my car. Well, that will be for another blog post, but trust me...each bus ride = new stories.


  1. Oh my goodness, my sister lives at 75th and Metcalf, and it's busy there anytime of the day!!! Congrats on taking the bus, I don't know if I would have had enough courage!!

  2. I love that you are taking the bus!! In Dallas and in Denver it is such a normal thing to take public transporation!!! But I would have been way nervous too...

  3. That is awesome, Brittany! It took me a good six months of living here to ride any public transportation by myself! I totally get how you felt :)

  4. HA HA! You crack me up! I would have been just as nervous though. I also work downtown. You might have inspired me to try it someday:)