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The long journey home

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The long journey home

Annabelle Chan

Annabelle Chan

Annabelle Chan

Claire Yoo

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Eight people in a school bus. Seven hours for a 40-minute drive. Three intact tires. One journey I’ll never forget.

8:01am: I receive an email from Dr. Kelly saying all after school events are canceled, and there are no late buses. I will get home early tonight.

4:00pm: It’s snowing a little heavier than before, but it’s so calming. I get on the bus.

4:15pm: The two vans in front of us drive down the hill.

4:36pm: We discover that the two vans and another bus got stuck at the bottom of the hill. We see a swarm of fifty people walking up in the snow. We also discover that there’s a 20-car collision on the GWB. Some of us contemplate taking an Uber. Ubers are $156. Lyfts are $226. Three kids get off the bus to take the subway into the city.

Someone: “We should just walk at this point. It’ll be faster.”

Everyone: “Haha, we’d get home at like 11pm.”

We were so naïve to say that. So foolish.

5:09pm: Since we can’t go down the hill, we back up and leave campus the other way.

5:18pm: They have closed the upper level of the GWB. Parts of the Henry Hudson are also closed. We go through local roads. The bus gets stuck and swerves around a lot.

5:24pm: We can stop if someone needs to pee. People need to pee.

5:26pm: Just kidding. We cannot stop even if people need to pee.

5:30pm: We hear through different sources that people are being allowed to stay at school and possibly sleep over. We are all insanely jealous because they have food, bathrooms, and outlets. It’s truly survival mode out here.

5:36pm: NEWS HEADLINE: Worst traffic jam in history of GWB.

5:37pm: We are watching a video of the jam on the bridge. Trucks are smashed into trucks, car parts are flung around the bridge, people have left their cars and are walking around. I wonder if the 2012 Apocalypse just came six years late.

5:54pm: The bus driver plays the radio through the speakers, which are not inside the bus, but on the outside of it. Very useful. We hear it faintly over the sound of the world falling apart outside.

Person 2: “I can’t hear. Is this Cardi B or Nicki?”

Bus driver: “Don’t disrespect me like that… It’s Cardi.”

5:57pm: We make it onto the West Side Highway! Someone says the ETA from here is an hour.

6:14pm: Food rationing begins.

Person 1: “Oh, I have a Kit Kat!”

Everyone: “I WANT SOME. I WANT SOME.”

Person 2: “Cut it and we’ll share. Each person can get a piece.”

Person 3: “No, you don’t get any. You got a piece of gum.”

6:18pm: “Does anyone watch The Good Place? Well, you know how the bad place is tailored to each person? This would be my bad place.”

6:19pm: An ambulance rushes past. Some people on the bus contemplate driving behind it to move faster. But that’s illegal.

6:42pm: I have finished reading Beloved.

6:52pm: Remember when ETA was an hour? An hour ago? We haven’t moved in the past 30 minutes. Time isn’t real anymore.

6:53pm: Some of us start talking to the driver of the Eyewitness News van next to us.

EN Van driver: “You going to New Jersey?”

Everyone: “Yep.”

EN Van driver: “No, you’re not.”

7:20pm: Another Supertrans van rolls up next to us. Both vans open all the windows. We scream and wave as if these are the only other people we’ve ever seen. A girl from the other bus tries to throw a granola bar to our window. It’s a failure. We separate.

8:19pm: A man in the car next to us pees in a cup. When nature calls, you answer. It’s something we have all learned today.

9:15pm: Dr. Kelly sends out an email telling us to use our socks and shirts as toilet paper. We nervously eye each other.

9:30pm: School is closed tomorrow. After three and a half hours on the highway, we are finally on the ramp to the bridge. Glory!

9:50pm: We have crossed the bridge, and we are all screaming.

10:00pm: After getting permission from Supertrans to stop for bathrooms, we make it to the first gas station. The gas station is my holy grail.

10:06pm: We are back on the bus. Going home. Life is so beautiful. We are all beaming.

10:07pm:

Bus driver: “I don’t want y’all to panic… but we have really low tire pressure…”

Someone: “How low?”

Bus driver: “Um… 5 psi.”

5 psi is literally nothing. That’s an asthmatic person lamely blowing into a bunch of rubber around a metal cylinder. My seat is above the tire. This is life, I guess.

10:18pm: After just driving around on the flat tire, we make it to the next gas station. It’s closed. Perfect.

10:19pm: MUN is cancelled. Some people are more devastated about this than the fact that we have a flat tire at a closed gas station. Horace Mann.

10:20pm: Two students are outside the bus, trying to fix the flat tire. I give two quarters so they can use the air pump machine to see if the tire is just low on pressure but intact, or really blown out. I repeat: two students are trying to fix the flat tire. Horace Mann.

10:21pm: The tire is really blown out.

10:32pm: It’s all hopeless. We’ve called our parents to pick us up. No one knows what will happen to the bus, but we know that it’ll be better than what it has just been through.

10:40pm: The bus waves me off as I leave. This must be what Odysseus felt like.

11:09pm: After a better-than-Dorr, seven-hour bonding experience, I am home.

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The long journey home