I had the day/evening off of work last Friday and I was absolutely giddy just thinking about it all week. I’m not the type of person that calls off work—I hoard my PTO days and then schedule a day off here and there and then proceed to treat it like an absolute luxury. It makes it so much better, I swear!
Everyday when I’m on the trolley, I sit on the same side and stare out the window in order to avoid eye contact and the schizo conversation that will undoubtedly invite. I get on the trolley in Dormont and from there it travels down the main street in Beechview, which is another little neighborhood similar to mine in Brookline. I like to look at the (mostly closed-up) storefronts, and near the end of the boulevard, there is a coffee shop called Brew on Broadway that I have always wanted to try thanks to a chalkboard sign out front boasting REALLY GOOD waffles and a comedy night called the Brew Ha Ha. But recently, the sign has changed to announce the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes. Look, I love PSL (because this acronym is apparently a thing now) from Starbucks, as much as I feel like a corporate asshole admitting that, but I’m always up for spending my money at independent coffee shops.
The really wonderful thing about where I live is that it is possible to walk to a lot of different places. I grew up in the suburbs and NOTHING was within walking distance from my house. Not even a goddamn convenience store. Not even really a bus stop, which made it really hard all of those times I tried to run away to join a girl gang in Hazelwood. (This was a real aspiration.) So if I can walk somewhere, I will do it, even if there is not a Law Firm Walking Challenge happening. I figured, it takes me about 10 minutes to walk to the trolley stop every day, and from there, if I followed the tracks into Beechview, it would only be about another 20 minutes. And it’s mostly level.
I texted Janna the night before to see if she wanted to join me. She tried to rearrange plans a few times to include a car, but I kept saying, “JANNA THE POINT IS THAT I WANT TO WALK ARE YOU IN OR NOT.”
She ultimately said that was fine, but that she had to pick up a client at 1PM, so we planned on leaving my house at 10. That morning, she was almost an hour late! I thought for sure she was doing it on purpose to sabotage my plans, and I was prepared to tell her to just drive herself and I’d meet her there, but she was all, “No, no, no, I want to walk side by side while you talk forever about everything and nothing at all.”
And it was such a beautiful day for it, too! Mid-70s, sun high overhead, footfalls sound-tracked by my incessant narration. What more could Janna have asked for on a Friday morning? I was in such a great mood, too. I love walking! And I love pumpkin spice lattes! And I barely get to hang out with friends during the week, so it was a really nice treat…
OK, fuck it. I only wanted to do this because it provided me with ample opportunity to stalk my trolley driver. I figured, walking parallel to the tracks, I was bound to see him at some point! So every several minutes, I would interrupt myself to shout, “WAIT IS THAT HIM!?” but it wasn’t ever him.
Approximately 5,000 steps later, we arrived at Brew on Broadway and ordered our drinks, sat for awhile, blah blah blah. And then I looked up just as this familiar girl walked in.
“REMIND ME TO TELL YOU SOMETHING WHEN WE LEAVE,” I whispered hoarsely and VERY URGENTLY to Janna, who said OK and then went back to whatever it was she was talking about. She’s known me since 6th grade, so she didn’t seem too concerned or intrigued.
All I wanted to tell her anyway was that the girl who had just walked in and was currently ordering her coffee right behind me was the girl with the pink Mohawk who I was obsessing over last winter! (There’s just a little blurb about her toward the end of the post.) She used to get on the same trolley as me almost everyday, right outside from the coffee shop, actually. But I haven’t seen her since….well, since I wrote about her on my blog. Probably just a coincidence….
I realized that it was nearly noon by then, and that we would have to head back to my house so that Janna could get her car and pick up her client. However, and this was probably poor planning on my part, Janna’s office is actually located on the same road we had been walking on. We were about a quarter of the way into the walk when Janna tried to stop me because she spotted one of her co-workers outside of the office.
“Janna!” the lady called out. “We missed you at the staff meeting!”
“We had a staff meeting?” Janna tongue-fumbled. “Oh, shit.”
“Well, you’re in luck because it’s still going on! I just came outside to get something from my car,” the lady explained. “Wait’ll I tell everyone who I found, haha!” she laughed, and then Janna laughed too, uncomfortably. I just stood there awkwardly, wondering if the lady was going to ask why Janna was strolling about Beechview with some blond bimbo. Luckily for me, she just pretended I was invisible. I was down with that.
Janna shrugged and started to follow her down the sidewalk.
“Wait, give me your keys and I’ll bring your car back!” I offered, since she was already probably going to be late picking up her client. (Janna works for an intellectual disability facility, placing mentally handicapped people into jobs. She has some really awesome stories.)
So I walked all the way home, drove her car back (she had some old-timey radio soap opera playing in her car and I couldn’t stop laughing at it), and then walked home AGAIN. She offered to drive me, but it was about 12:40 by then and I knew if I was going to see my Trolley Driver at all that day, it would be then.
I said goodbye to her and called Henry on my way back.
“Are you RUNNING?” he asked, because I guess I sounded breathy (and we weren’t having phone sex so that was probably out of place) and also probably because when I run, I say things like, “Ow!” and “Oof!” for no real reason. These just seem like things I should say to express how dire my race actually is. I forgot that the road and the track split at one point and I needed to get back to an area where they were parallel with each other so he could notice me.
It was 12:47 and I was nearly back to the platform where I would generally catch the trolley, so I screamed, “I HAVE TO GO!” and hung up on Henry in order to prepare my phone to record. I went back to walking at a relaxed pace and tried to appear casual. Just walking along this street I wouldn’t ever typically walk along, no big deal.
And then there it was, on the horizon: my trolley! My heartbeat sped up again and I got that exhilarated sensation in my gut that only happens when you see someone you want to bang, fall down a flight of steps, or stalk someone. It’s usually accompanied with a very strong urge to urinate.
So there I am, all casual, phone on “record” and pointed out from my hip, when the trolley chugged on by and it WAS NOT MY TROLLEY DRIVER WTFFFFFF. I started to get really worried because that was two days in a row he wasn’t there! What if he really did get in trouble for stepping off the trolley to fraternize with that awful trolley troll on the First Avenue platform?!
Then on the last block before my house, I saw this asshole woman with a cane whom I absolutely cannot stand (I see her every morning when I take Chooch to school and I think she’s FAKING IT) so by that point I was really worried that my day off was soiled entirely. But once I retrieved Chooch from school (and saw some lady laying on the ground, having seizures! It was so scary!), things really started to look up.
Oh yeah, and Janna didn’t get in any trouble at work. Sorry again, Janna! (OR AM I.)
On my next day off, I’m going to walk to the Crested Duck for some stalking. I mean, for some cheese.