The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Monday, April 03, 2023



It was not to be. 

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." - modernized Robert Burns.  

Although it seems that line should appear somewhere also in Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men", I cannot recall if it does..... somehow I also associate the phrase with Steinbeck too.  It has been quite a while since I read "Of Mice and Men" so I cannot recall if one of the characters may have quoted Burns or not.  

My trip to Iowa was a bust as far as being able to indulge in a delightful bowlful of enticing tobacco leaf goes.  And, it was my own damn fault.  I am chagrined at myself for my own stupidity.  

I had it all neatly planned into my very hectic Des Moines schedule.  I had a block of a bit over two hours where I could stealthily be away from what I needed to do in Des Moines (other than eating, of course).  I had a bus plan all written down on how to ride the bus to the outskirts of Des Moines proper so I would then only have to hoof about 1/2 mile to the nirvana that awaited me in David's Fine Tobaccos.  

The bus system in Des Moines IS beautifully laid out.... for the day-to-day traveler of the system.  Each bus stop is identified by a number across the expanse of the city and suburban destinations.  The large number of buses are marked well.  But, I was not as aware as I needed to be of these nuances.  Outside of my hotel, I readily found a "Dart" System bus stop.  I was told it would be there by my perusal of the route map.  But, what I DID NOT realize is that there were actually FIVE different bus stops that were in the small block perimeter of my hotel.  I also did not realize how to identify a bus stop by its "number" either.  

I waited at the presumed bus stop for 20 minutes, then 30, then 35 minutes for the bus that went towards University Avenue that I needed.  Although a bunch of buses did appear, none of the ones that stopped at my stop were designated for that region.  And,  time was ticking.  I was already rather frustrated and I decided to walk a bit down the block to a small store and see if they could help.  The storekeep was a fellow who looked to be in his 40s, and he had a very heavy accent that sounded like may have been originally from Pakistan, because to my ear, his accent seemed similar to a couple of professors I know from the U who are from Pakistan.  Unfortunately, he had no advice to give, as he did not like to use the bus system. As I walked back out, another bus zoomed by, and I was cursing myself under my breath, presuming this was the University Avenue bus and I had missed it.  Fortunately, though, the signage on the back of the bus was for a different location.  

I looked around, and then saw out of the corner of my eye, another bus stop just a little ways away just around the corner of the block I was on.   I ran over to it, and saw another bus stop part way down that block.  I then realized I was lacking some damn pertinent details that I did not understand of the bus system.  I quickly hoofed back up to my hotel room and began again to look at the Dart website on my computer, to see if I could figure things out better..... quickly.  I had looked at the site on my phone while I was waiting earlier, but it seemed rather chaotic to navigate on my phone, and I had already gotten comfortable with how it worked on my computer.  

I finally figured out that I needed the stop that was just down the corner of the block on the other cross street away from the store I just visited.  I hurriedly hoofed back downstairs, and out the door, and got to the Dart stop just as the bus was pulling up!  I thought I had figured it out.  I jumped on and paid my fare and sat down.  

I looked outside as we moved down the streets for a bit.  The bus kept turning on a lot of different streets, which surprised me.  

Then it dawned on me.  I had gotten on the "right" bus, but it was going in the "wrong" direction.  I should have been at the other bus stop directly across the street from this one, so I would have gotten the bus going in the other direction. By this time, I had already eaten up one and a quarter hours of my allotted "pipe time".  I was (and still am) frustrated at myself.  

Even if I would have been ABLE to get there in the time remaining, I would have not had enough time to do anything accept probably get to the building itself before I had to turn around and high-tail it back.  My spirit felt rather broken as I reached up and pulled on the string of the bus.  After the driver stopped the bus, I got out, and went across the street at this unfamiliar area, and waited ~20 minutes for another bus of that route line to show up.... going in the opposite direction, and let it take me back to the hotel... so I could go back to the work I was here for.

I am aggravated at my own poor planing and my own stupidity.

* * * * * 

Ran - 10.1 miles (~16 km) this morning.  I felt quite stiff and achy from the air travel and the seating posture that the flight requires when you are packed in like sardines. 

PCS - 10.  Of course, this number reflects my failure on my journey.  I was so very excited about the possibility of visiting there and experiencing. I feel... aggravated and annoyed. (I had spent most of my air time getting to Des Moines lost in my imagination of how I would soon be tasting the pipe tobacco's indescribably beautiful flavors, feeling the smoke's tranquil and peaceful effects, getting to see my version of a "kid's candy store" all around me.  I was imagining peering at all the beautiful pipes, smelling the various tobaccos in jars, and chatting peaceably with those at the shop.)

I have to revise three exams this afternoon, now that I am done with lecturing for the day.  I have to get these revisions to my secretary today otherwise they may not be able get printed in time. 


The "bust" in the image is of course of Hemingway.  

Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner.... three of my favorite authors whom I had always admired.  All born around the start of the 1900s. 



Blogger Margaret said...

That is SO frustrating! I know how much you must have been looking forward to your excursion. :(

Monday, 03 April, 2023  
Blogger The Blog Fodder said...

Sorry you missed your anticipated treat. Sorting bus/subway systems in English is bad enough. Trying to do it in a a foreign language is worse. We took the wrong train late at night in Barcelona and almost had to spend the night on it

Monday, 03 April, 2023  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I thought this before in connection with the Chicago trip, so I am going to yell at you now. When you are in a strange city and have a limited time to do something that you really want to do, why wouldn’t you get a cab or Uber? It’s a one-off special or close to it, so you could splurge.

Tuesday, 04 April, 2023  

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