Catching the bus

DH and I have just spent a gorgeous long weekend in the sunny 25 degree warmth that is the Gold Coast. We were at the Scripture Union national conference. We loved it. It was wonderful. It was uplifting. The people were awesome. The teaching was varying degrees of sparkly brilliance and wisdom. The weather – oh the weather! We walked outside every day! I could wear but one layer! Just ONE! None of this five layers business that goes on in Hobart at this time of year. But that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is purely about the trip back from the conference centre to the airport.

Our return flight to Hobart took us via Sydney and we were leaving Queensland at 230pm on the Sunday. So we were catching the 1230pm bus from the conference centre to the airport. This bus left at exactly the time the conference finished, and the amazing administration staff had a plan. We were told from Saturday morning that we needed to find bag tags for our bags. We needed to check out of our rooms before the 9am session, put our bags in the place with all the other bags that were going on the 1230 bus, and get ourselves and our bags onto the bus immediately the final session ended. Immediately! NO delay!

I take these things to heart. Deadlines are important to me. Especially when they involve catching planes.

So, of course, the final session went over time by about five minutes and I went into panic mode. I still needed to pee before I got on that bus, and I didn’t want to be the one holding everyone up. Besides, we had been told, ‘the bus will not wait for you’ and I took that seriously too.

We all did as we were told, with varying levels of punctuality. We left the conference room, picked up our bags and our packed lunch, and congregated outside the front door to get on the bus.

There was no bus.

Well, at first I just laughed at myself, ate my lunch, commiserated with others who had been as panicky as myself, and relaxed.

But as the minute hand crept past 1pm I started to get worried again. Where was the bus?

At ten past 1, the call came ‘Who is catching the 230 plane? We’ll send you by car. We don’t know where the bus is!’

Ok, now can I panic?

There were six hands raised in answer to that question, but when we all gathered there were only four of us so that meant we would all fit in one car. They sent Yvette to get the car keys and I took a deep breath…

…and the bus showed up.

What to do? Well, we thought we’d be faster in the car than they would in the bus so we all raced down to Yvette’s car, stuffed our luggage in the boot, squeezed three grown men into the back seat (one of whom was quite tall and was telling us how he always tried to sit in the exit row) and started on our way.

Yvette wasn’t a local so we logged into google maps and tried to figure out which route would be fastest and we turned on Siri.

The guy in the middle of the back seat shared with us all that he loved to be on time. That getting to a plane late for him was as bad as not catching it at all. No pressure Yvette!

We took off and immediately hit traffic – Sunday drivers – and red light after red light. But we tried to stay positive. We talked about all our plane catching experiences and the stress we had gone through in the past. We laughed. We knew we’d be fine. We were sure we’d be fine. We were going to be fine, right?

And then, we saw it. The bus. It sailed past. IN THE BUS LANE! No traffic problems for the bus – there was a bus lane! A clear lane! Just for the bus!

Then things got really serious, or really hilarious. Depending on whether you were in the middle seat of the back or not. Yvette was determined to catch that bus! We just wanted to catch the plane.

At one point Siri told us to take a short cut. We cut over the right hand side of the big highway onto the old highway that ran alongside and we just flew along. There was no traffic there at all. It was great! Until we had to turn back onto the highway again. We pulled a very swift manoeuvre, squeezing ourselves into a non-existent gap between two cars, earning the ire of fellow drivers and I tell you, I swear I heard Siri chuckle as she told us to turn right at the lights. In fact, we all heard the little jump in her voice, and we collapsed into gales of laughter.

We must have made up heaps of time taking that shortcut, because as we were waiting to turn right at those lights, the bus sailed past us, in the bus lane, AGAIN! We couldn’t believe our eyes!

But this time we kept up with the bus and as we pulled into the airport we were only about five cars behind it. Yvette double parked, we yelled a big ‘Thank you!’ and grabbed our bags and raced through the priority line at security. We made it to our gate in time to join the queue shuffling out to the tarmac. No need to panic, well, not much anyway. But no time to meet with my Gold Coast family for drinks at the airport either. Ah well, next time I’ll remember that there are bus lanes on the highway and I’ll stick to plan A. Next time, just maybe, the bus will be on time…

One of the other conference attendees was on that bus and on our plane. We saw him checking in as we took ourselves to security. He made it too. We all probably would have made it on the bus, but we wouldn’t have had the hilarity of the conversation in the car. And you wouldn’t have had this blog post.

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