7:55 p.m. -- I finish last cables to correspondents abroad and start for Dupont Circle to take bus home. Plenty of time to catch the 8:18 T-4 bus to my house in Chevy Chase. Pleasant fall night, reinforces my decision to give up old clunker and start taking buses to and from work, getting a little exercise as added benefit, saving several hundred dollars in parking, gas, insurance, repairs.
8:10 -- Reach Dupont Circle after leisurely walk and see bus waiting across circle. Plenty of time, I say to myself.
8:12 -- I see bus leaving. Must be different line.
8:15 -- Small group of us waiting at stop. Ask fellow waitee what bus just left.He thinks it was T-4. Some muttering.
8:30 -- No T-4. I call complaint number. Get disconnected and lose 15 cents. Next bus due at 8:40, a T-6, also takes me a block from house.
8:35 -- T-2 arrives on schedule. Young lady asks whether T-2 or T-6 is quicker to Montgomery College. I tell her T-6 probably quicker and due to leave same time. She decides to wait. T-2 leaves on schedule at 8:40.
8:45 -- No T-6 in sight; 50 people waiting. Two N-2s bound for Friendship Heights have gone by and Ivy City buses keep driving by.
8:55 -- Still no T-6. Next T-4 due in 15 minutes. Lady who skipped T-2 takes a cab.
9:00 -- Gentleman from India says he doesn't understand. Better bus service in Belgrade, not to mention Paris or London. Another gentleman mutters something about turning the whole thing over to private enterprise -- that would solve problems.
9:10 -- No T-4 in sight.
9:20 -- Cheers. T-4 shows, packed to doors. Unloads and driver turns on flashers.
9:25 -- T-4 driver puts up "Not In Service" sign. Two of us quickly move in front of bus. Driver agitated, opens door. Says he has been ordered back to yards, claims everything messed up by road construction on Mass. Ave. during rush hour. We are unclear why no buses are running three hours past rush hour.
9:30 -- Fellow rider calls Metro information number. Gets a recording: all operators busy. Finally a very kind lady -- a Mrs. Meredith -- comes on. Problem explained to her. Line goes on hold. Mrs. Meredith finally comes back and says all buses running 40 to 50 minutes off schedule due to construction. We ask for supervisor and go on hold again. Mrs. Meredith comes back; no supervisor available, but she says there is supposed to be one at Dupont Circle. We say no one has seen a Metro official.
9:40 -- Head count shows 41 people waiting. Several have left by cab.
9:50 -- I call home.Find out colleague called from office at 8:45 to check detail in a story. Wife assumed that meant I had caught the 8:40, which gets me home at 9:05. She put dinner in oven.
9:55 -- Three more cab defectors. Still no sign of Metro supervisor. Given mood of crowd, maybe that's for the best.
10:00 -- Cheers. Someone sees bus blocks away. Sighs. It's another Ivy City.
10:02 -- Man says friend in Silver Spring will meet subway and take small group to Rockville. Four leave. Half dozen run across street to catch N-2 to Friendship Heights. Will take Maryland cab from there.
10:05 -- A T-4 arrives. Someone asks: "You gonna take it, or wait for T-6 . . .?"
10:07 -- I board bus. It's my favorite driver. He's always helpful to people seeking information. Get rapid-fire explanation of delays: construction during rush hour, drivers' shifts over, no relief drivers -- confusing and still doesn't explain how four of five N buses came down Mass. Ave. during period when one T bus showed.
Driver notices I am taking notes and says, "Now some people on this bus, I know they're going to write letters. But the world's just too complicated; can't change the world just like that.
"The supervisor told me: "When you get down to Dupont Circle, they're gonna have questions."
"Almost lost my job once; some knucklehead misquoted me in a letter to the governor of Maryland."
I get his message and tell him not to fret. My driver, the philosopher.
10:25 -- Friendship Heights. As many as 50 people file aboard:
"Hey, when's the T-6 coming?""
"Only thing I can tell ya is that when he gets here, he'll be here."
"Do you go down Old Georgetown Road?"
"I'm a T-4" (which goes down Old Georgetown Road).
"Funny, you don't look like a T-4."
"Got a schedule?"
"Yeah, I got one, but it won't do you any good."
10:35 -- I get home. Supper a little dry.