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2004-03-05 - 2:11 p.m.

This morning, it snowed. I'm not talking a regular couple of inches. I mean big, fat flakes of wet, heavy snow. The tree in our front yard was bowed down with the weight, and the branches touched the driveway. What a surprise to wake up to! The forecast predicted snow, but I had no idea I'd be helping my dad shovel off his car this morning. It must have started snowing sometime after midnight, and it hadn't let up when I got up at 5:30 this morning. In fact, it's snowing right now. Everything was covered in a blanket of pure white snow: the world made new. By this time of day, it's dirty from the cars and various forms of pollution. But this morning was perfection.

My dad drove me up to the bus stop. The bus came not a minute later, and we all bundled in. Our bus line has a lot of new riders these days due to the bus strike that's going on. Fortunately my bus line is one of the few still in service, and it has attracted many new riders for lack of other options. Including Jacob.

I sat in the back of the bus with him, and sat up front for a few minutes too to talk to the lady who gives me rides from the bus stop in the evenings sometimes. For such a big storm, our bus was surprisingly on time.

Until 3 stops after mine.

The bus slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road to let on some passengers. When it started moving again, it started slipping further off to the side. And backwards. And into a ditch. The back right wheel was completely off the road and hanging over the edge of the ditch (right where Jacob and I were sitting) and the front left wheel was 2 feet off the ground. Jacob and I were mildly panicked about it, but the rest of the passengers were amazingly nonchalant about it. They laughed and joked and a few went outside to look at the mess. We caused a gawker slowdown on the highway. The police came and I have to say it was the most beautiful police officer I've ever seen. She was a model. It added to the surrealism of it all. Our bus driver asked her not to call a tow company and let her bus company call one but the police officer said, "I'm the police! If I say you're blocking traffic, you're blocking traffic!" But she said this with a smile, and I realized that the bus driver only asked her not to call a tow truck to cover her own ass; the tow trucks called by the police come hours quicker than the bus company was. So everyone was pleased, including the bus driver. Apparently just asking the police officer was enough for company absolution.

The tow truck finally came and we all piled outside the bus, back outside where it was still snowing. In the meantime we had been sitting inside and joking around, and waiting for the bus that was supposed to come a half hour after ours. That bus was late.

The tow truck blocked a lane of traffic, and behind us another spun out car blocked a lane of traffic, and we could see the traffic backed up for untold yards until the highway curved out of sight. We watched the tow truck try to pull the bus out of the ditch, and the tow truck ended up sliding backwards and then snapping a cable. Jacob had said something about a cable snapping about a minute before it happened and he was so proud of his psychic abilities. In the midst of all this excitement, a van stopped in front of the tow truck and someone got out and said that they had room for 5 riders to go downtown if they like. I didn't care to go, figuring my own envelope-stuffing job was infinetly less important than anyone elses. But no one was really jumping at the oppertunity and Jacob thought it was a good idea. So we jumped in. One of the bus riders called out, "Deserter!" But it was all in good fun.

What a kind thing for someone to do! The five bus passengers talked all the way to downtown. Two people had kids who went to Minnetonka High School. One person was familiar with Mr. Show and we talked about that. We talked about how it's getting lighter out, and how it really feels like spring now that it's not so dark at the bus stop. Jacob remarked that it takes a Minnesotan to say, "It's spring," on an day like today. I looked outside to the winter wonderland of snow, and laughed. But it was 7:30, and bright outside, and it really did feel like spring.

Even though I was late I still stopped for my Friday treat of a carmel apple cider and a blueberry scone. Someone from the van joined me, and it was pleasant company all around.

This morning's crisis of a bus spinning out of control into a ditch turned out to be a reflection of the human spirit. Everyone on the bus was so friendly and seemed not to mind the snowstorm delay. And I can't believe someone stopped and offered us a ride. What a sight it must have been, to see 20 bus riders standing outside in the snow and watching as a bus was attempting to be pulled out of the ditch. On a day like today I can't help but think that people must be basically good.

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