Shortest Day/Longest Night

Today, December 21st, is the shortest day/longest night.  Meaning that there are more hours of darkness than there are of light.  Depressing in my book, but that also means that starting tomorrow, the day(light) gets longer and that's a positive thing for me.

Although the longest night is tonight, I can honestly say that yesterday felt like both the longest day AND the longest night.  I'm going to tell you why.  (You knew that I was going to.)

My eyes flew open around 3 in the morning.  I tried to go back to sleep, but by 3:30 gave up and got up.  I had laundry to do. (Even though I had done 3 loads the day before; the joys of coming home from vacation!)  I had an episode of The Gilded Age  to watch (while I did my stationary pedaling).  And I had an office to get to.

I caught the 6:55 bus (which arrived just before 7, the bus driver is very sweet and tells me I'm his favorite passenger).  I was at the city light rail station before 7:30 and in the office shortly thereafter.  One of the challenges of coming back from vacation is all the work that is waiting for your return.  Even with 4 people covering my various lines of business, there was still a LOT to do. (And I did peek in and done a few things while I was away in an attempt to try and keep my head above water.)  At this time of year, as everything for 2023 needs to be wrapped up, there is barely any time to breathe.  Somehow the morning turned into the afternoon and then people were heading out.  Maybe it WAS the shortest day?

Because I had so much going on, I decided to stay a little later and take the 4:30 express bus home.  Since it gets dark so early, I like to leave before 4 and get a local bus (hopefully before traffic gets to crazy) while it's still light out.  (It also drops me off closer to home.)  The express means a straight run from Newark Penn Station to my stop (no light rail and waiting for a bus in the cold), but it does mean a longer (uphill) walk home.  Since my son is home, he could pick me up once I got off the bus.  Or at least, that was my plan.

I got to the bus lanes with 10 or so minutes before the bus was to arrive.  And it did arrive at around 4:27.  But then the bus driver got off and walked away and it didn't look like he was just taking a quick break before he headed out again.  However, a group on NJ Transit employees take this bus, with a certain passenger by the name of Joe, who is very knowledgeable.  I could see that he spoke to the bus driver and then announced to the group of us who were waiting for the express that there was an issue with the bus, so we'd have to wait for a replacement.  (Which would probably come just around the time that the 5 o'clock express would show.)

At this point, I thought about going back into Penn Station to take the light rail to the local bus (as a matter of fact, Joe suggested it), but it was getting dark so I decided to wait with everyone else.

Just before 5, Joe corralled us to a different bus lane where our replacement bus had arrived.  We all got on and waited...and waited...and waited...Traffic was heavy and no buses were moving out of the bus lanes and into the street.  A good 15 minutes passed before we were even able to start to make the turn.  At which point Joe suggested the city light rail to the local bus again.  Seeing how traffic wasn't even making it out of the bus lanes in the station, it made sense.  He and another man (whose name I don't know) got off the bus and I said I would join them.

We walked back to the main building and went down the stairs to the light rail, which just pulled out as we started down.  No worries as there is rarely more than a 5 minute wait for the next one.  Hopped on board and within 10 minutes we were at the stop for our bus.  A local one was scheduled to show up in 15 minutes, but I only had 2 minutes left on my ticket (which I had to activate to get on the express bus).  Joe told me to take a screen shot of the ticket and he would explain to the bus driver what had happened.

Sure enough in about 15 minutes the bus pulls up and it's pretty full.  Joe explains the situation and we manage to get some of the last seats on the bus.  (We are now in the middle of rush hour.)  As we slowly pull out, this loud beeping alarm starts going off.  Joes knows that it can be one of two things:  the driver's seat belt is not properly secured or the engine is overheating.  Care to guess which one it is?

The bus slowly made its way about two miles (or approximately 13 bus stops) before finally stopping at a hub.  Everyone got off while we waited for the next bus, which was thankfully only about 7 minutes behind us, to arrive.  When it did, the driver explained the situation and we all piled on.

We arrived in my town approximately 2 hours after I left the office.  As I got off the bus, I thanked the driver (as I try to always do) turned to the all the remaining riders and to be festive said:  "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night."

Arriving at home 12 hours after I left, it was definitely a long day AND night.  Thankfully I don't have to go back to the office until January, at which point MAYBE I will be ready for more commuting adventures.  (But probably not.)


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