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I used to stick with the train for my commute to and from downtown, but I’ve given up because construction makes it so erratic—sometimes my trip takes less than 30 minutes, other times twice as long, and after a certain point in the evening I can’t even catch the Red Line north from the stop nearest the office. Instead, I’ve started taking the 147 Outer Drive Express bus. While it often gets crowded with people who've apparently reached similar conclusions [go about a minute in], I’ve come to enjoy the ride home along the lakefront.
So after working dangerously close to the start of last evening’s NBA Finals game, I hurried to the bus stop and immediately concluded I was lucky. The 147 rolled right up—no wait for a change.
My luck continued as we cruised up Michigan Avenue far more quickly than usual. Suddenly we were through the light at Oak Street and dipping into the tunnel that leads to Lake Shore Drive.
We were already going about 50 miles an hour.
I don’t know if the driver thought he too might have a chance to see the Celtics practice shooting threes over a team once known as the Lakers, but he was gunning it. We shot onto Lake Shore Drive and veered into the next lane. We whizzed past cars, steered suddenly back into the right lane, then back over again. People around me cast each other looks combining thrill and terror. Air whistled through gaps where the windows were open slightly. We were still accelerating. We hit one of the many potholes on the drive, seemed to go airborne, and slammed down again with a crash that left some wondering if the bus might possibly break in two. Then we did it again. Since the driver managed not to crash, it was a blast.
The bus coasted off the drive at Foster, turned onto Sheridan, made a stop next to the Dominick’s, and suddenlyputtered to a complete stop. The lights and vents went off and an alarm began to beep. The driver stood up calmly and opened the front door as the couple next to me began to talk in low, concerned tones: What’s going on? Is something wrong? Is he just getting off the bus? Maybe we should get out of here. Somebody find out what's going on . . .
The driver moved casually toward the back of the bus. “I guess it overheated,” he said over his shoulder to someone sitting up front. “You guys can get the next one.”
Nice of him to wish us well, but there wasn’t a next one—at least not for quite a while. Fortunately for my sake, I didn't wait around for it. I joined the caravan of people hoofing it up Sheridan Road, and by the time I’d covered the last mile there still hadn’t been another bus.