Monday, June 29, 2009

Go Greyhound and Leave the Driving to Us...if Your Bus Exists

UPDATES! Much sooner than you think. I'm writing you from beautiful Huntingdon Valley, PA. I am at the headquarters of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer. It is an absolute beautiful place with fields and a chapel and a library and wonderful people. I'm lucky to be here though. Why? Well....

Yesterday I woke up at 8am. My bus was scheduled to leave the station at 9:50am. I arrived with my parents around 9:15am or so. I waited and waited and then suddenly a Greyhound blew past the stop! I thought for sure that the bus was mine so I went inside to ask the attendant. She said the bus would stop and that was another bus. By 10:10am, the bus really did come. I almost voided my ticket by tearing it off for the bus driver. He stopped me just in time before I tore it off. Whew! I boarded the bus and picked two seats to myself in the middle. The bus driver was really friendly, telling jokes and helping me out.

I was really nervous about my change over in Wilmington. I was worried I'd miss my bus because the current bus was running late, or I'd board the wrong bus and end up in TN or NY or something. Once we got to Dover we picked up a TON of people. Earlier we had made stops at T's Corner, UMES, Salisbury, and Laurel, DE. I moved my stuff out of my wonderful second seat and a nice lady sat next to me. Her name was Bette and she was an artist and a computer whiz. She loved art that heals, and she worked at a small gallery. She also used to work for companies like Microsoft. Her first husband died in a car accident. Her second husband's mother had Alzheimer's. So she and her husband, Ed, were caring for his mother. She majored in art history when she was in college. She was on her way to visit her sisters in NJ. We had a great conversation. She gave me her card and I'm supposed to call her when I find out what goes on with RMC.

When we reached Wilmington we were past my layover. My bus was supposed to leave for Philly at 3:55, it was 4pm. I was so nervous but she assured me everything would be ok. I said goodbye, got off the bus, got my luggage and suddenly the bus driver got swamped. Everyone wanted to know where he was headed, people were throwing tickets at him. I just waited patiently and finally got the chance to ask him about the Philly bus. "Its late" he said. Ok. cool.

There was a perfectly good reason why I was so worried about the changeover. There were four Greyhound buses parked outside the station. I had to go to each one and try to find out where they were headed. But a million other people were trying to do the same thing. Finally I found a guy who was just trying to get home to Philly. I became instant buddies with him and sort of relied on him to find out what was going on. Well..the four buses left. One to Baltimore, one to DC and two to NY. So I went inside to ask the ticket counter where the Philly bus was. "Its late" they said. Ok. cool.

I went to the restroom and returned to wait for the bus. Finally around 4:20 or so, the Philly bus arrived. The attendant outside said we all had to go in to the ticket counter and get a green sticker put on our ticket. What? But my ticket says Philly...this is the 3:55pm bus....

I started freaking out. I went in to get my sticker with my new friend Safyia. A really nice girl a little older than me who was trying to head home to Philly too. We got the weird stickers, returned to board the bus and the driver started calling out numbers. There were three seats on this bus to Philly. There were about 18 trying to go to Philly. What on earth?

I was number 12, Safyia was 13...we weren't getting on this bus. This sticker thing was out of the blue and I was starting to panic. I didn't miss my bus, but my bus didn't exist. It sort of did but only had THREE seats. What on earth? Ok. Not cool.

Safyia and I waited outside and shared our life story. The Philly people were irate. I mean cursing, screaming, yelling, pacing, complaining. It was quite the show. My friend and I sat there quietly. I found out that she worked for City Year, a volunteer org for a year. She was from Philly and she was one of eleven kids. She was the last girl in her family to get married. It was an arranged marriage. She was Muslim and she told me all about how she was introduced to her future husband. It was love at first sight! He was very respectful of her and they kind of had a high school like romance. They were both new at the relationship thing and respected each other for it. It was incredible. I learned all about her. We bonded over our situation. Then we found out that the 5:40 bus could take a few more people but the majority of us would be leaving the station at 7:30. WHAT? I had called Leah, the volunteer who was picking me up in Philly at 4:30 so she knew to stay home until I called her. I was so frustrated. How can a bus just not exist?

Safyia and I split some Oreo cakesters and crackers on me. We talked about music and turns out she was a radio dj in college too. She loves jazz and she and her friend had a punk show. The Philly people were now cursing out the workers at Greyhound. Leah was getting ready to drive down to DE to pick me up. Safyia went to Amtrack and they were going to charge her $42 to get to Philly. Greyhound wouldn't refund tickets. It was a really crappy situation. Then, there was a gas leak on the street so firetrucks from everywhere came in. Talk about adventure.

Finally the 5:40 bus came at like 6:10pm. I went out there claiming optimism. I got in line as the driver checked the numbers but then Safyia waved me over to her. They weren't checking the numbers, he was taking the first eight people in line! So I got behind her and handed him my ticket. I think it was then he realized they were numbers. So he goes 10, 11, 12...ok thats it. I was lucky 12 and Safyia was 13. She literally got me on that bus. But she needed to get home too! I gave her a hug, thanked her and got on the bus. The only seats available were all the way in the back. I went back there and had to sit by an unfriendly Hispanic guy and a bunch of punky teenagers who talked about everything from Fat Joe to club dancing to sex to if you were dying on an airplane. It was so annoying. The seat was small, the bus was hot and I was annoyed. AND THERE WERE TWO EMPTY SEATS. I should have gotten up and told the bus driver but I didn't want to interfere since he literally yelled at the people trying to get on the bus. So, Safyia was left behind and she was crying. I felt horrible. There was nothing I could do. I was all the way in the back and maybe we were at capacity and I didn't know. So I got ripped away from my friend, miraculously got put on a bus and had an awkward and awful ride to Philly.

When I got to the bus station Leah wasn't there. I was early. So I wandered around and then waited outside. I did the whole press your backpack against the wall so no one can steak your crap thing. I was asked for cigs, $20, and a light by various shady characters. I just wanted to be with someone who knew the city so I could get a hot meal and the hell out of this part of town. It was so sketch.

Finally Leah met me at the corner and we walked to the subway. I got to go by city hall which was beautiful. When I said so, Leah thought I meant the subway. haha No, I meant the buildings outside. The subway ride was lengthy but I got to ask her a lot about her volunteer experience with RMC. We arrived at the stop, got in her car, and drove to her community house. I was greeted by two Sisters who gave me a delicious meal. I talked their ear off for sure. I was so excited to be there, nervous to be with people I didn't know, determined to impress them, and hungry and tired. So I talked a mile a minute. When I finished my ice cream Leah drove me to the headquarters of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer. I arrived at 10:10pm, kind of late, and met some Sisters. They were so nice and welcoming.

The put me up in a nice little room with my own bathroom and shower. I couldn't even write about the day I was so exhausted so I just showered and passed out. It was a long day with lots of traveling and my nerves were shot to pieces.

-------------------------Day 1--------------------------

I awoke at around 7:45 and laid in bed until 8am. Then I got up, got dressed really professional style and wandered around to find breakfast. I found the dining hall with no trouble at all and ate a delicious meal by myself until Sr. Ellen came in. After breakfast I met Eileen, the director of RMC. We talked for a bit, she gave me a tour of the headquarters and then I had a two hour interview with her. I think it went well. I certainly enjoyed it. Then she took me on a tour of the Health Care System and I got to see all the Holy Redeemer buildings from the hospital to the nursing homes. After that I got a short break and then had my panel interview.

As I was leaving to go to my interview I walked down the hall with a confident swagger. Suddenly the fire alarm went off. I calmly evacuated the building. Apparently there was something left on a stove on the third floor and it set off the smoke detector. So the fire dept came (I'm seeing a lot of them lately) and took care of things. Then I waited in the lobby until I was called for my interview.

The panel/screening committee interview went really well. I really enjoyed talking to the director of Project Rainbow and the Sister. They were really open,friendly and made the atmosphere relaxing. By the end of the interview I had my feet on the couch. haha

After the interview I went to dinner. First I changed out of my formal clothes and put on a little skirt and a t shirt. Ahh, comfort. Anyway I had a delicious dinner with a bunch of the Sisters. I literally just walked up to them and asked if I could sit down and join them. They've been commending me on my openness and outgoing nature. "She's not shy" they say. I love them already. Its funny because I've only known them for a day but they are just so wonderful. One of them googled me because she didn't know how to spell my last name. She found all the things I do such as when I worked at the Rec and was really impressed. I said "I hope RMC accepts me." She replied, "Accepts you? They're probably going to want to keep you!" That meant a lot to me.

A spunky Sister told me that I have her vote even though she has no bearing on the decision. One of the main sisters jokes with me now. Its so comfortable here and I really feel like I belong. No, I'm not going into Formation to become a sister in a religious community, but this is def. the program for me. I feel certain things will turn out well and I've already won over the Sisters even if they don't get to decide if I am accepted.

Yes, I will be crushed if I'm not accepted. There are other things I can do, I know, but everything is just so perfect here. I felt the same way I felt during Phi Mu recruitment. Everyone was saying "we really think you'd be a great addition to our sorority. You will enjoy it." and I kept thinking "yeah, but you have to accept me first."

Tomorrow I visit two of the sites and then I have an interview with the psychologist. I'm sure everything will be fine. If I'm accepted the hardest part is going to be figuring out which placement site I like the most. haha. I am looking forward to the next two days. However, I have to leave at 7:45am tomorrow. I think I might actually try to get up for the 6:45am mass! We'll see.

Thats about all I have update wise. I'm in their beautiful library right now. I think I've said beautiful and thank you a million times here. We'll see what happens in the coming days.

Until next time.....

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