Thursday, March 13, 2008

transit chase scene

Transporting a bass around Calgary without a car has been a whole lot easier than I would have imagined. Partly that's because the weather has been unusually warm these last couple of weeks (today's high was 1 C). And also, Calgary has a quite nifty transit system, if you can figure out all the routes and schedules. (This site helps somewhat.)

This afternoon I had a rehearsal at Knox Presbyterian Church, which is in the southwest, certainly outside of bass-walking distance from my morning rehearsal downtown. I looked it up on, and found that there are a couple of routes (#112 and #108) that go directly from downtown to that neighborhood. I missed the 112, but the 108 showed up just a few minutes later, and I was on my way.

Maybe I'm still traumatized or shell-shocked or whatever, but the truth is I never much liked to drive -- and if I'd known how easy it is to get around by bus, I probably would have left my car home anyway. It's so much nicer to relax and get some reading done, rather than fretting away in traffic.

The only snafu was at the end of my trip back downtown: having just climbed off the bus, I realized my Klean Kanteen water bottle was missing. Normally I would have just snapped my fingers and let it go, but this happens to be a very nice metal water bottle, pictured here. A couple months ago a study came out saying that plastic water bottles leach bad chemical stuff into the water, and all my friends started demanding I replace my trusty Nalgene -- "Please Matt, stop killing yourself!" So I eventually caved, and bought the $16 leach-free metal canister.

I certainly wasn't happy about losing it, so I began frantically waving to stop the bus. No effect. It was heading down 9th Avenue, with only the perpetually red stoplights and rush-hour gridlock to slow it down. Now I was still carrying my bass, and I briefly considered popping on the wheel and chasing it down. You may recall my plan to write an action movie screenplay about an intelligence agent / musician, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test out a chase sequence. I was just a few steps from the stage door though, so I first set my bass down inside, then went galumphing down the street to desperately try and recover my water bottle.

I first ran down 9th, where I could see the bus making a left in the distance. I remembered that I'd caught the bus on 6th and McLeod -- not realizing it went right past the stage door -- so it was probably looping back there now. So just like an action movie hero, I turned left to cut it off at the pass -- only to see it pass me again, stopped at a crosswalk. Now I was right behind the bus, and two other buses. I was actually running down a bus only lane, in flagrant violation of pedestrian traffic laws, but by now the adrenaline had started to kick in, and I was ready to overturn some fruit carts or whatever they do in action movies.

Luckily there were no fruit carts, or police officers watching, and the traffic was still creeping along. I ran up alongside the bus, stopped at another light which had just turned green, and tried to indicate with hand gestures, "Please, I need to get on board, there's a highly expensive drinking device somewhere in the back row!" The bus driver, a friendly Polish man, made the gesture for, "Forget about it, there's a stop around the corner." So I went running again, and finally caught up, where he let me on and I found the missing canteen. Whew!

For the actual movie script, I'll probably have to think up something better than a water bottle to be chasing down a bus for. But still, I'm thinking my musician / intelligence agent / action hero should also be car-less. I'm sick of all those screeching-tire, wrong way on the highway scenes -- it's so much more exciting to watch someone run down the bus, fish out a bus ticket, and find a decent seat, all in one swift gesture. Especially while carrying a double bass.


Anonymous said...

Change the water bottle into a heart on ice on route to a transplant, then change the Polish bus driver into Angelina Jolie and I think you have a hit.

Anonymous said...

The water bottle contains some fissile material, the driver won't stop, so he climbs up the side (dragging the bass case the entire time) gets on the roof, opens the vent and drops in (again with the bass case). People on board can't understand why this guy who just saved the world is dragging a bass case, but because they're Canadian, they're too polite to ask.

Chantal said...

so are you shopping for a new car? Or is public transportation the way to go from now on?

Jason Heath said...

I do like the image of you running down a bus in the cold Calgary winter! Reading this made me fire up Wikipedia and do a little reading about Calgary (a city I don't know much about). What a cool place--congrats again on the job, even if it does mean chasing after buses from time to time. I'll definitely be blogging about this one!

Anonymous said...

This is reminiscent of the Living Daylights.. a James Bond film with a cello and cellist featured prominently. Add lots of beautiful women in your movie chasing you all over the place.