As you all should know by now, the northeast got pummeled with a lot of snow thanks to a blizzard that was part of a nor’easter. If you were like me, you scoffed at the idea of 12 to 18 inches of snow until you realized more than two feet of snow fell. A foot would have been more preferable!
Today was the first weekday, a “happy Monday” if you will, which meant mass transit was put to the test in trying to get people from Point A to Point B despite there still being snow in some areas.
It was a shit show. The line at the bus stop was close to 50-deep and of the two buses that had shown up, only one barely accepted passengers (as in people snuck in through the back door). An express bus (a larger bus with a premium fare meant to get you somewhere with a little more comfort) showed up and I opted to take that instead, knowing full well it wasn’t really going to get me to work any sooner.
We crawled and crawled and crawled. The street was one of seven roads in Queens actually fully plowed but everyone was taking it very slowly and gingerly. It took us ten minutes just to move several hundred yards at one point. I didn’t mind it because at least I had a (mostly) comfortable seat and I wasn’t stuck on a regular bus having to hold onto a handlebar with my fingertips while trying not to elbow five people in the head and while trying not to have my balls smashed in by over 9000 Coach or Michael Kors bags.
By the time we finally reached the Midtown Tunnel it was already 9:00 (on a much more normal sort of day, I’m walking into the office by 9 after passing through the Midtown Tunnel at around 8:20 or 8:30). Everyone knew how late they were but there was nothing much they could do other than immediately getting up and standing in the aisle after requesting their stops.
As more and more seats became empty I was tempted to move up a few rows because I wanted to sit somewhere without someone next to me; I was in the sixth row on the driver’s side, sitting next to a woman who took up all her seat and a minute portion of mine. If I moved my arm or my leg, I would have made contact with her—I was seeking a seat that could allow me to move more freely, even a little. But as we traversed 34 St, approaching Fifth Avenue, I remained seated, not wanting to move despite my desires to move.
A young woman in the row next to me got up, ready to get off at the bus stop. Her bag nudged me in the knee ever so slightly. It was unwelcome but inevitable, the perils of riding mass transit with tight spaces. She was making her way to the door and I, for whatever reason, looked toward her seat.
“Excuse me, is that yours?” I asked.
She turned and looked. A silver laptop was there with its AC plug and adapter on the floor. It was obvious she had taken her work laptop home on Friday, just in case the blizzard made commuting to work impossible or if her employer decided to close on Monday, and she now had to lug the hefty machine back to the office today.
The laptop was not in a laptop-specific bag but rather inside one of those fancy, glossy paper bags you’d get at a store like Express. The bag was clearly not designed to hold anything heavier than a few pairs of them apple-bottom jeans, or dress shirts being sold at buy-one-get-one-half-off prices. The bottom completely tore open and the laptop had slid out, onto the seat next to hers.
She had no idea it had gotten out of the bag. She frantically went back and tried to get everything together. The plug fell out again so she had to pick it up. The bus driver closed the doors and was ready to keep going before she had to tell him to wait. She briefly explained her predicament to him, apologizing for, and justifying, the delay.
Had I moved up to the empty seat, I’m pretty sure that young woman would have left the bus without her laptop. She would’ve freaked out, and had to make calls to figure out where it was, which bus it was on, which route it was, what time it took place, what the laptop looked like, and so on. Not the kind of way you’d want a Monday to start. Because I remained in my seat, I was able to be a good Samaritan and spare her the misfortune of losing something of importance.
It’s remarkable how one small decision can have such a big impact.