Everything Went Wrong

In The Art of Travel Fall 2015, Washington DC, Misadventure by Kennedy Hill1 Comment

Misadventure happens to the best of us. Sometimes all the preparation in the world can not help us avoid a mishap. These hiccups that often happen while traveling can feel like major setbacks. In the moment, a missed flight or a wrong turn can feel like it will throw your entire day out of motion. Mix in the stress of traveling to an unfamiliar place, and that feeling only intensifies. What I find most frustrating about mishaps that happen while traveling is that a lot of the time, the problem is out of my hands. I can understand if I cause something to go wrong, but when it has nothing to do with my actions and I am forced to rely on the strangers around me, that is the hardest.

My most recent mishap happened while taking a bus from DC to New York City. I was heading up for the weekend to visit friends in the city, and having had a positive experience earlier in the semester, I figured it would be a smooth trip like last time. I should have known from the start that things were bound to go wrong.

Arriving early to Union Station so I had time to grab dinner and then get in line for the bus, I felt ready for the 4 hour trip ahead. Typically, people begin to get in line about an hour ahead of the departure time, with boarding starting 30 minutes before departure. For my trip scheduled to leave at 4pm, I got in line at 3pm and was surprised to see that a few people were already in line. Having stood in line for around 20 minutes without a bus in sight, I started talking with the people in front of me that looked equally distressed by the lack of a bus. I soon found out that they had been scheduled for the 3:15pm bus, but had been forced to take a later trip because it had been overbooked. It was unsettling to learn that there were problems with the previously scheduled trip, yet it was somehow comforting to have other people there with me in a similar situation. By the time it was 3:45pm I started to get really concerned. This was the first time I was taking the bus on my own and I knew that I wouldn’t know what to do if the bus did’t come. To my relief, the bus came right at 4pm and were on the road a few minutes later.

Unfortunately, the hour late bus was representative of the trip as a whole. As I was putting my stuff in the bins overhead, a man walked by with a large backpack that had locks hanging off the zippers. My back turned to him, the locks caught in my braid and pulled me by the hair as he continued to walk down the aisle, completely unaware. Then, as I was walking down the aisle back to my seat, the driver slammed on the brakes. The forceful stop pushed me forward, throwing my knee straight into the corner of a chair. To top it all off, the trip that was supposed to take 4 hours dragged on for 6 slow hours because of traffic.

This bus ride to New York was unenjoyable to say the least, but despite all of the unfortunate events that happened, arriving to be with friends in the city made me feel like it was all worth it. I wouldn’t say that I learned much from this experience, except maybe patience, but I do feel like misadventures such as this are an undeniable part of life.


  1. After having read through your mishap aboard the bus, I glanced at your picture and laughed at the nondescript roadside and colorless sky. Although for some reason I’m a fan of length international flights, I’m a lot more averse to roadtrips of comparable length. I’m sure the trip must’ve been as unenjoyable as you described. You’re right that such mishaps aren’t avoidable or deniable, but I’m glad to hear you ended up at your destination. You must be thankful not to be abroad in, say, Italy or Spain since the public transportation I’m told can be much more unpredictable than in the States.

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