I've been without a car now for nearly a year, and while the expenses associated with a car have not been missed, the convenience has been. I have a particular route I take to get home late at night when bus service is minimal, and a lot of walking/running is involved. Last night, I made a triumphant journey home.
I had made some miraculous trips to catch the Q46 bus before, lots of running I didn't know I had in me at this stage in my life, running that I probably wouldn't be able to do if it weren't for the ultimate goal: to catch a bus and get home earlier than expected. Sometimes, if I miss a bus, I can tag an extra hour to my arrival time. So the reward for making an early bus is well worth it.
If you plug in the address of my theatre (Cooper Ave.) to a certain point on Queens Boulevard where I catch the Q46 into MapQuest, the total miles are 2.2. I usually figure 40 minutes to walk the thing, data I have gathered from many walks along this path. Sometimes, no matter how hard you run, you aren't going to catch the next bus, so a leisurely walk is recommended. But sometimes, I'll begin that 40-minute trip with 35 minutes left. I need to run at some point.
Last night, I left the theatre at 12:50 AM. It's way too late to catch the 1:10, and right at the time limit to catch the 1:30. My goal is the 1:30 bus. Now, had I been able to leave maybe 5-10 minutes earlier, I could have caught the 12:51 Q54 bus that runs along a one-mile stretch of my trip and turns 20 minutes of walking into a 5-minute ride. Still, should I catch this bus, getting the 1:10 Q46 without some good running is a long shot. I'm not even thinking of catching the Q54, figuring it long gone, but I steadily jog towards Metropolitan Ave. just so I can maybe have some time to spare when I get to the Q46 bus stop, or should the Q46 decide to leave early (which happens a lot).
Buses are late sometimes, and the 12:51 Q54 was late, but early enough to beat me at my regular stop. I jog on, still figuring no way am I going to catch this bus. But at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Metropolitan, the traffic light stops the bus for a very long time. I'm still pessimistic, figuring that the light will change soon enough and it will zoom along without me. But, at the next stop, 4 people have to get on, and they stall the bus some more as they board, and at this point, I am Carl Lewis-ing my way across Woodhaven into the Q54 bus. The 1:10 Q46 is still a long shot, but it's a possibility.
Now, after unboarding at the intersection of Metropolitan and Union Turnpike, I have 7/10 of a mile left. It's 1:01. Nine minutes until the Q46 leaves. The trip from Union Turnpike to Queens Blvd goes slightly uphill, then down. I'm still a bit winded, and I still don't think there's much of a chance to get this bus, so I decide I'm going to walk the uphill part. Should the time be favorable once the road starts going downhill, I will make a dash. It was 1:07 when I reached the "top." I start running.
When I reach Queens Blvd, I notice the Q46 has left its post and is making its way west. This bus must make a U-turn so that it gets back to Union Turnpike, which is the road that the Q46 mainly operates on. This is beneficial to anyone who just barely misses the bus when they exit the subway station right next to the bus stop, because with some determination, they can make it to the next stop before the Q46 can get there, with the help of long traffic lights stalling it along the way. So, I enter the nearest subway, make it down some steps, down a long corridor into the station, turning left down another corridor, back up some steps where I am now on the other side of Queens Blvd and there's a long stretch of sidewalk to the next bus stop.
The Q46 is at a stop light, waiting to turn left down Union. Now I'm completely out of breath at this point, and I have to worry about fire hydrants that have flooded the sidewalks, and I've also got to hope that at the next stop, there are at least 3 or more people to stall the bus some more. There's a large crowd there. I make it. I get home in record time without using a cab. About 30 minutes. Like I said, I've made some miraculous runs over the past year that got me to a bus early, but nothing tops the sheer grit and luck that I got last night. A few months ago, I might have been extremely sore after that much running. But I think I'm in a lot better shape than I used to be.
Which makes me wonder...should I get my car back, will I feel the need to go out running or walking as much anymore? Probably not. This is one consideration should I get my car back. I enjoy being able to make these kinds of runs; they're exhausting, but rewarding in many ways, not the least of which is sort of staying in shape. If I get the car back, I need to come up with some other goal besides hoping to catch a bus so that I can walk/run with a purpose. Yeah, I could say the purpose is to stay in shape, but it's never been a driving factor for me in keeping up with exercise. Like I said, I doubt I'd ever run this way if it weren't for the goal involved.