When I first moved to New Haven, I marveled at the impressively intricate and somewhat intimidating public transit system, something that my roommates from New York, Los Angeles and Houston found equal parts adorable and funny.
Out in the Wild West, you see, buses are always yellow and used exclusively to shuttle schoolchildren to and fro. Trains exist for the sole purpose of hauling around obscene quantities of coal and/or cows. My town had a single taxi that appeared about as frequently and visibly as Bigfoot, which gave it an elusive and legendary mystique: You might catch a glimpse of it once or twice and you’d excitedly text your friends about it and write down the number before it faded back into the ether, then recount the epic tale in hushed tones to your kid brother and his friends to a chorus of disbelieving “no ways.”
Now, of course, as a wizened two-year resident of the sprawling metropolis that is New Haven, I’ve tackled every form of transportation frequented by the typical Yalie — Amtrak, Metro-North, CT Limo, Metro Taxi, public buses, the shuttle (red and blue line) and other cities’ subways — usually without much incident. I like to think I’m Han Solo flying through that asteroid belt, coolly navigating New England and casually tossing around phrases like “So I think I’m gonna catch the 10:53 Metro-North to Grand Central…”
Once again, though, life found a way to turn my overconfidence into a paranoid yet evolutionarily sound fear of all things travel. After missing a bus, getting on the wrong train, switching my plan no less than four times, giving my mom another few stress-induced gray hairs and considering hitchhiking with whatever trucker would have me, all in an attempt to get to Boston, I wound up sitting alone at the deserted Fairfield Metro-North station. With nothing to do but dramatically lip-sync the “Aida” soundtrack, I typed this blog post while trains whizzed by without stopping to pick me up.
I guess there’s something to be said for learning life lessons the “brute force” way (“crashing face-first into knowledge,” as my sister called it) if you, like me, prefer to sail through life under the mantra of “fake it till you make it.” Sure, it was cold and rainy in that train station and my parents now dread the day when I skip off to obscure parts of the world upon graduation, but I’ll never again forget that Megabus picks you up at “a different part of Union Station from all the other interstate buses.”