Saturday, March 31, 2007

Busing Stupidity

I have already provided a mountain of documentary evidence that I am a fat, stupid jerk. However, as you may have guessed, I did this mainly to establish my expert credentials before I bear witness of all the fat, stupid jerkitude going on in the world around us. This is a subject on which I have kept people in stitches for hours at a time. Take a deep breath and prepare to laugh...and maybe, worry.

Exhibit One in my case for the stupidity of the world: the bus that didn't drive me to school when I was in eighth grade.

Bordering Minneapolis on its south side is a small suburb called Richfield, where the scene of today's Featured Stupidity lies. A good deal of the line between the two cities coincides with a freeway, known locally as the Crosstown Highway. However, right where the Crosstown swerves to the north and enters Minneapolis, there is a very small neighborhood within Minneapolis City limits, but south of the highway. A few blocks further on, residential development has been cut short by a park, then another highway, and some land belonging to the airport. My family's house was right at the swerve in the highway. From the eastbound lanes of the Crosstown Highway, if you looked over the top of the sign that said "You are entering Minneapolis," you would have seen our house.

The street in front of our house also swerved, to get out of the way of the highway, and turned right into the north-south street at the next corner. But from our house all the way down to the park, the street had two kinds of pavement on it with a crack down the middle. The north side of the street was maintained by the City of Minneapolis. The south side of the street, by Richfield. That's how seriously they took city limits in those days. Our neighbors on the block facing us across the street belonged to a different community.

During part of my eighth-grade year, and all of my brother's (the following year), we went to a parochial school in Richfield. It would have been awfully convenient if we could have taken a bus there and back. But we had a problem. The bus taking Richfield kids to our school wouldn't pick us up, because we were in Minneapolis. This bus actually stopped right in front of our house and picked up kids who had to walk, in some cases, several blocks to their bus stop. But it only ran on the Richfield side of the street.

There was also a bus taking kids from Minneapolis to the school. From the upstairs windows of our house we could actually see it picking up and dropping off students who lived just across the highway. It came across the bridge only three or four blocks away, by the park. But it wouldn't turn down our street to pick us up because, in order to get back on its route, it would have to turn around and drive on Richfield pavement.

We were at an impasse. We were in a tiny, triangular sliver of Minneapolis where no bus could pick us up. Eventually, if memory serves, we got over the impasse by crossing the bridge and catching the bus on the Minneapolis side of the highway - a walk of several blocks when, just past the end of our driveway, a bus going to the same school wouldn't pick us up. That's the world for you. And guess what? It's a fat, stupid jerk!

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