My experience with Zipcar yesterday was sub-optimal. My first mistake was reserving a car parked on the St. Paul campus on a Saturday. Bus service slows down on Saturday, so getting there was less easy than I thought it would be. I took my regular route to the East Bank campus in Minneapolis and planned to hop the inter-campus shuttle to St. Paul. Well, that bus only runs once every half hour on weekends. Throw in the big Minneapolis-Iowa football game that afternoon and I ended up waiting out in the cold for at least 40 minutes to catch the bus.
It was an entertaining ride over as the bus was actually one of those short buses based on a van and there were far more people needing a ride than average. The at-least-somewhat drunk and enthusiastic college students that made up the passengers crammed in as closely as possible filled the trip with chants and songs. (A rather ragged and disappointing version of the Minnesota Rouser included.)
Once I got to the car, I discovered a dent in the front bumper. I phoned it in and got on my way. I wanted to stop and get some goodies for the party, but felt I was getting a bit late. I also soon discovered the traffic leaving the football game and that made me even later. I needn't have worried, I was the third person to arrive.
Returning the car was a bit worse. cakmpls sent me home with a bag of books for Ericka. When I got out of the car on the way home, I did something odd and the handles of the bag broke and the bag tore a bit, causing a few books to spill on the parking ramp floor. That would be a hassle on the bus home, so I called to extend the car for a bit, only to discover I had it for another hour. This was the beginning of my downfall.
I zipped home and dropped off the books, did a bit to assist Ericka and checked on the bus schedules to get me back from the parking ramp at this later time. I decided against the campus shuttle, given my earlier experience and decided to take the bus that involves a bit of walkign but runs directly from near the campus to a block from my house. I checked the schedule on-line and found it runs once an hour with the stop I needed scheduled at 10 after the hour.
What I failed to notice was that the last bus was scheduled an hour earlier than I intended to catch it.
It was not cold; not the cold cold of January when the cold will begin biting at your extremities within a few minutes of being outside.
It wasn't dark; not the dark dark of rural Minnesota where you can see more than just the brightest stars. In the distance, the amber glow of Minneapolis was visible and there was a street light and a traffic light at the intersection where I waited in vain.
It was not quiet; traffic zushed by, sounding a bit like blades on fresh ice punctuated with double-staccato bump-bumps as tires hit the seams in the concrete. There was one car cranking its stereo while it waited for the light that I wished I could have heard more of, but most passed quickly, their thumpings trailing away in the night.
I waited until five minutes past the time at which I thought the bus would arrive. I was tempted to time the traffic lights to give me something to do to pass the time, but they were triggered by sensors on the road and not slave to some mechanical regularity. After a reasonable wait, I called the bus line; no further buses were scheduled for that night; checking the schedule, the last one had passed an hour earlier.
Then I walked home. Only a mile and a half and the walking warmed me up. But not what I'd planned.
Next time, I'm throwing my bike in the car before I return it.