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Lost: Adventures with public transportation

| 01 May 2012 | 01:52

Dirt’s new intern has been arriving from Brooklyn via public transportation – sometimes sweaty, sometimes dusty – sitting down and getting right to work. He never volunteers his misadventures; it is only after prodding that his epic detours are revealed. Realizing he has inadvertently done some entertaining firsthand reporting on our public transportation system (and hitchhiking scene), we made him write it all down.

By Tim Wheeler As a Dirt intern, part of what I do is make the journey from Brooklyn to the magazine’s headquarters in Chester every Wednesday. My journey begins with a 40 minute subway ride to the Port Authority in midtown Manhattan. From there I take a Short Line bus two hours northwest to Chester. At the end of the day, my editor Becca typically gives me a ride to Suffern or somewhere else where I can catch a train back to the city. When this arrangement works, it works fine. Unfortunately, there are often complications.

The first time I went up to Chester I brought my transportation woes upon myself. I hadn’t slept much the night before and decided to nap on the bus. I realized how ill-advised this decision was when I woke up in Goshen, four miles down the road. While it could have been worse, I still had to walk back to Chester trying, unsuccessfully, to get a ride while drivers hurled epithets in my direction, calling my masculinity into question. My hitchhiking efforts were probably not aided by my long hair, unkempt beard, and generally scruffy appearance.

The hitchhiking adventures continued a few weeks ago when I arrived at my desk to find a note from my editor, informing me that she would be touring fish farms all day, and that I should knock off early and catch the bus from Chester home. The last bus from Chester to New York leaves at ten after four, so about 15 minutes before four I walked over to the bus stop to wait. Four-thirty rolled around and no bus had showed up. So, with a recent haircut and newly shaved beard, I once again stuck up my thumb. After a few minutes, I did succeed in attracting the attention of a police officer who flipped a U-turn and pulled up alongside me. “Son, you can’t hitchhike here, hitchhiking is illegal. At least go down the road a bit where I can’t see you.”

I gave the sidewalk-lacking, shoulderless road a forlorn look and started walking, trying to figure out what to do. Just then, a weathered minivan pulled over and a man who looked like a cross between Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong opened the door. “I saw that copper hassling you man, get in.”

After determining that I needed to get to a train station, my benefactor drove me to Harriman. I bought a train ticket to New York, and then went to check the schedule… only to realize that the next train was not until 10:30. I opened my cell phone, which beeped a warning that it had low battery, granted me a brief view of the time (5:00), and then promptly died. Two train rides, several closed subway lines, and nine hours later I opened the door to my apartment and collapsed on my bed for 12 hours.

The morals of this story are to stay awake for your bus stop, and to realize that bus schedules are not so much set in stone as they are general guidelines.