When we were teens my sister and I used to love to con my Dad into giving us rides. We were forever losing our change, deliberately missing the bus, or just plain begging. I’m sure it got annoying.
(I’m sure of this because my Dad said it got annoying.)
One summer we had done this so much that my Dad finally got fed up.
As we left the house heading to our friend’s house for the evening he told us that no way, no how, was he picking us up that night. If we lost our change or missed the bus we were on our own. And he meant it.
So Julia and I carried out the evening for once completely conscious of the time after checking and double checking the bus schedule. We were both careful not to have “too much fun” as too much fun is often the precursor to “I lost track of time”.
After an evening of moderately good times we made our way to the bus stop which was a 10 minute walk from where we were visiting. We walked quickly, both of us smug in the realization that we had done good, and we arrived at the bus stop several minutes early only to experience a huge shock.
The bus stop was gone.
Disappeared. Dug up. Kaput. Missing in Action.
And there coming up the hill towards us was our bus, eager and early.
We exchanged a look of sheer panic and ran to the next stop, racing uphill against time and transit and knowing deep down that it was impossible. Time seemed to slow down and we arrived at the next bus stop just as the bus was pulling away. My fist hit the door in desperation and the bus driver didn’t even spare me a glance as they drove away. Julia and I huffed and puffed in silence, starring at the ground.
Finally we looked at each other and made the silent agreement that Julia was to call Dad. She was always more charming and this situation needed charm.
Julia and I made our way to the nearest payphone and used some of our bus change to make the call. The conversation did not go well. After a month of our creative stories about why we missed the bus our “the bus stop disappeared” line just made it seem like we were no longer trying.
Dad was fed up and we were told to walk.
“Walk?” We both asked at once, Julia into the phone and me screeching in the background.
The walk home was 45 minutes and it was after 9pm, the summer night was still light but stars had started to appear in the sky and it would be dark before we arrived home. My imagination has never done well in the dark, all the evils of the night always seem to cloud my head and to make matters worse the walk home passed a cemetery.
Obviously we were going to be torn apart by zombies and Dad would definitely be sorry.
Julia and I began the trek home, anger emanating from both of us as we walked, feeling unjustly persecuted. We complained bitterly to each other, our bond further strengthened by this new adversity, completely ignoring the dozens of times we had lied about why we had missed the bus. Here we had finally followed the rules and for what? It was ridiculous.
As we neared the cemetery a car slowed up beside us. Forget zombies, we were about to be kidnapped and sold into slave labour, never to be seen or heard from again. Dad would definitely be sorry.
We started to walk away faster when we heard the honk of the horn and turned around to actually get a look at the driver.
There sitting in the driver’s seat was my Dad. His mouth was a straight line and his hands gripped the wheel in annoyance. We hastily made our way to the car, for once fighting over who got to sit in the back as neither of us wanted to sit next to my Dad (there was no fly for him to swallow this time).
Julia cleared her throat and tried to say thank you for the ride, hoping that his appearance meant he had forgiven us. Instead he just grouchily told us that our Mom had told him to pick us up, her anxiety too much to allow us to walk home alone in the dark.
He didn’t say anything else to us that night and it wasn’t until the next morning that we heard from him.
Dad was calling us from work sheepish and sorry. You see, dear reader, Dad had noticed during his commute to work that morning that the bus stop was in fact gone, dug up by a construction crew who were repaving the sidewalk. We were vindicated.
Still, we made sure to leave even earlier the next time we left a friend’s house as the “disappearing bus stop” excuse definitely wouldn’t have worked again. Especially since it hadn’t even worked the first time.