Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A bus, a bike and a bit of mud

So what do you think of the new joint? I’d been trying to get a background picture to work in the banner of my old template from the outset, but it just wasn’t having it. What you see above isn’t even the crop that I was going for, but it’ll work for now. All in all, I think it looks more mature.

Sorry about the commenting snafu yesterday. The settings on my work computer weren’t allowing me to delete a comment that had used my last name (that’s a no-no), so I just had to hide them until I could get home to fix it. The offending comment was really a bit off-color anyway given the gravity of the post. Better luck next time, hightower.

In other news, today is my grand experiment. I took the bus to work. And my bike. I had to get up about an hour earlier than usual because the last a.m. trip on the 102X Farragut Express leaves downtown at 6:45. It’s a two-mile ride from our apartment to the transfer station, so I had to leave at 6:30. I looked like an idiot (more so than usual, I mean) trying to figure out the bike rack on the front of the bus. Both the driver and a man on the sidewalk were gesturing and throwing partial directions my way, until I figured out that the arm that holds the bike in place telescopes into position. Of course! My bike (hopefully) secured to the front of the natural gas-powered bus, I greeted the driver with a sheepish "Can you tell it’s my first time?" He was very friendly and helped me figure out where to insert my $1.25 fare. Turns out the quarter goes in the coin slot and the dollar bill goes in the dollar bill slot! And they gave me a college degree! It was dark; what do you want from me?

I was the only one on the bus and must have been an oddity at that for this particular route because the driver immediately pulled away. He was a friendly guy who had previously driven a big-rig for twenty years, so this bus thing was like handling a sports car for him. That said, and despite my urging, he wouldn’t detour to an empty parking lot to spin some donuts for me. Damn joyless civil servants. After a twenty-five minute ride up the interstate, we pulled into the Farragut Park and Ride, where the boarding passengers were surprised to see anyone getting off the bus. In fact, the driver had to ask them to let me off before they all got on. I had an easier time getting the bike off the rack than I had getting it on.

From there, I had about three or four miles to get to work. Luckily the traffic was very light this early, but I still opted to take a short greenway that runs between the interstate and a mega-retail development, the better to stay away from the cars. I pulled into the parking lot at work over an hour before my 8:30 official start time. I had unfortunately picked up some mud in my tires taking a shortcut and so spent the next fifteen minutes trying to work it out of the treads. There’s no bike rack outside the building, so I wanted to at least get the chunks off before wheeling it through the marble lobby and down the pristine hallways to my office.

With two nasty red marks on my forehead from my helmet (I wonder if they’ve gone away by now?) and a dirty bike at my side, I felt pretty conspicuous heading through the building. I’m glad it was early and few people were around. After wiping off some of the mud, I stowed my two-wheeled steed beneath my desk, changed shoes and took on the day. Actually, I turned on the computer and typed this post, which has already taken me well past 8:30, which means I’m getting paid right now! Yay. Now I look forward to the dumbfounded look I’m going to get from the first person who notices either my bike under the desk or the scarlett helmet tatoo on my forehead. These are not bike-riding folks here. Speaking of, where’s ICW? Speak of the devil, she’s here, and only 12 minutes late. And…dumbfounded look number one is in the bag, and she’s already telling me stories. More on that later, I’m sure.

16 comments:

Courtney said...

Yay! Glad you made it safely. I was a little worried.

Courtney said...

And I love the new layout!

Anonymous said...

nice look mr. x. i thought about riding my bike to work but i am not sure how it would look pulling up to inspect someones house on the fisher.

hightower(i aint skeered)

Noelle said...

I'm glad you clarified the rules, because I wasn't sure if I was breaking a rule I didn't know about! Also, I love the layout and that you used the bike thing on the bus. I've always hoped someone would so that I don't have to.

nancypearlwannabe said...

I tried leaving comments on two different posts yesterday, to no avail. I love the new layout though.

Congrats on making your way to work sans car. I can't wait to hear more adventures with your co-worker, whom I secretly still make fun of in my head even though I know I shouldn't.

Chris said...

Well that sounds like a simple enough commute. I can't believe more people don't do that.

Nice new layout. Someday maybe I'll figure out how to put a picture in my header. I tried once, but it took up like the top five inches of my screen.

Mickey said...

Chris- Why don't more people do this? It may be cheaper ($2.50 roundtrip, or a $40 monthly pass versus $3+ for gas per day and the added costs of vehicle maintenance), but it also adds over 2 hours to my work day. That may be a deal breaker. I'll be gone from 6:30 am to about 6:30 pm today. If there were a bus stop closer to work and they ran more frequently, it would be easier.

Then again, with the bike/bus combo, I can see how a person living in a city like this could easily go carless. We'll see how the return trip goes.

Meaghan said...

Love the new design for your page. More mature? Now, is that really representative of you, Mickey?

I have considered riding my bike to work. I mean, I live about three miles away from my destination. I have two reservations about this: 1) the people in Rome drive like bats out of hell, even on Loop 1, and 2) I guess I could never wear a skirt to work, would have to forget about good hair and would have to tote around one of those stupid little backpacks with my purse and heels in it (yeah, I'm girly when it comes to fashion... what of it!)

Allie said...

Good for you for giving it a try! That's awesome. Even if you only commute this way a few times a month it will have a substantial impact.

I wish more cities would focus on building bike paths, etc. We have an excellent system here, and when the weather isn't horrid, my husband bikes to work and seriously enjoys the commute. We'd have many happier and healthier people and less pollution. I don't see the downside.

Well, that's my rant. . .

Oh, and the new design is great.

Jacob said...

Meaghan, I thought that the main reason you wouldn't bike those three miles would be because of the fact that most of that distance is through divided 4-lane highways with no bike lane or sidewalk where the average speed is just below 60 mph. I don't think many hippies would even risk that for their environmental leanings.

Meaghan said...

Yeah, there's that, too.

Chris said...

FYI, Mickey, I was being sarcastic. That sounds like a rather long, complicated commute, and it's obvious to me why no one does it. If you can keep it up, more power to you.

But, this comes from a guy whose daily commute is about 15 steps into the next room, and that's with a detour to the toilet.

Mickey said...

Chris- Yeah, you're already doing your part. Then again, all that air travel probably makes up for it, although no one's suggesting you ride a bike to Orlando.

Meaghan- I wouldn't ride the bypass either. Running it was bad enough. No shoulder or sidewalk. You should write to the city about that.

Allie- I figure I'll try to do it once a week to start or maybe even all the nice days. I was going to do it last week, but the morning temps were in the teens. I like it cold, but that's a bit much to be on a bike.

Noelle- Your blog-etiquette is unimpeachable.

NPW- She still warrants making fun of, at least a little. And I'll definitely keep you posted on her continuing adventures.

Julie said...

Congratulations on your successful greener commute. I think it's awesome. I asked Matt if I could ride a bike to my office, since it's only about 4 miles, but I would have to cross several major roads and I-75. He said no.

Mickey said...

You asked Matt? WTF?

Zola said...

Great work.