Saturday, August 1, 2015

Rescue angel

[retooled a bit from the original Facebook post]

The short version: I decided to bus home after the Critical Mass ride. A charity race had Liberty Ave & every cross street closed, so every bus route is detoured. Of course I missed my 12, but so did two young women who were already confused without the detour. Rather than wait 59 minutes for the next 12, I arranged with my wife to pick us all up in WView, and drive them to their car, six miles away.

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So this is really a story about how I gained the trust of two 20ish women to get on a strange bus with a strange man who called his wife to come rescue them. If you were in their shoes, would you have done the same? But they did so without any pressure from me. Perhaps it was the interchange of "When is the next bus?" "Um, 59 minutes from now." Possibly it was because, with a helmet and a mirror on, pushing a bicycle, with a laptop strapped over my shoulder, I didn't fit the profile of the flesh-eating monster.

What actually happened was, I pushed the bike across Liberty, and saw that there was no queue of would-be bus riders at the stop. The two women, who were dressed very very nicely, as if they'd gone to a symphony concert or some such, were staring at the detour sign zip-tied to the post on the corner of Liberty and 7th Street. I poked my head around the side of the sign, gave it about two seconds' glance, murmured something about "Oh, they're doing that, OK", and started off to the detour stop. 

But I heard one of them say something about the 12A, a bus route that has not existed since 2011, so took a look over my shoulder as I walked away. They were still staring at the sign. This told me that they were well and truly lost. So I turned around, walked back the 15 feet, and asked, "Where are you trying to get to?" "Showcase Cinema." [Note: That park & ride lot hasn't been called that in about two years, and for that matter, the cinema itself is now closed.] This meant they were trying to catch the same bus I was, so needed to go to the same detour bus stop as me, so I told them that, and they willingly followed. Their fundamental problem was that they didn't know which direction to walk to to get to 7th Street and Ft Duquesne Blvd from that spot, and I did. It's only about two blocks away, but with sidewalk caf├ęs blocking foot traffic and streets partially closed (people and cars coming out of a parking garage were competing for space on 7th), it was confusing even beyond trying to navigate the distance. 

Turns out, we should have figured out all the details about 30 seconds sooner, as I saw the bus turn off of Ft Duq Blvd onto the 7th St Bridge just as we approached the other side of the street, too far away to run or even wave it down. That close. They didn't realize the fix they and I were now in, so I had to explain it. My mind was also trying to figure out multiple Plans B, not only for myself but for them. I wasn't really stuck; I could have biked home, if push came to shove. But they couldn't, and I wasn't going to leave them hanging. They had two options: Wait an hour for a bus in high heels and 85-degree heat, or possibly I could call my wife to pick us all up in West View, which is six miles from the P&R. I explained the plan, and that the 8 Perrysville would be along in only about five minutes, so they went with it.

They didn't know fares, they didn't know when to pay, they really had very little information, but were trying to use the system. 

I rather enjoy being the rescue angel. Actually, Spouse Taxi Service was the rescue, I was just the booking agent, and I needed the service myself.  

Moral of the story, it doesn't take too much work to be a nice person. It really does help when you go out of your way to help other people, and the way to do that is to have information, know what the options are, and have all the resources readily available: phone, spouse, car, time. 

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to help a stranger in need. But how do you earn the trust of a vulnerable young woman? Particularly when that involves her getting on a strange bus then later into his personal car?

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