editor’s letter jan 2009

Editor’s note: Following is a recap and final lines of my last chapter: Late into Detroit, my Grand Rapids connection is gone and the driver announces the next bus in the following morning. Collecting my suitcase, from beside the bus, I rolled it slowly into the brightly lit Detroit terminal, shaking my head. Surely there’s a bus yet tonight!


Squinting in the bright ivory and glass terminal, I noticed Bigvoice and others had already parked their baggage at Gate 5 and claimed seats in the waiting area. This building’s lay-out reminded me of a figure- 8. I had entered a lower circular space and looked to my right into a wide passage that led into another round space whose windows faced a dark street. Seeing a curved counter through that passage, I pulled my suitcase along to ask about another bus, a car- rental or — if I had to wait — nearby accommodations.

A twenty-ish blond woman uniformed in navy stood behind the curved information desk and shook her head in response to my first question, “No Ma’am. There’s no bus going west until tomorrow morning.”

“How about a car-rental place?”

“Everything is closed now,” came her flat reply.

I tried my last question, “Is there a nearby motel or hotel?”

She shook her head giving me a look: Don’t- you- know- where- we- are?

“Any other place to stay for the night?”

“Not around here,” came words confirming the look I’d seen on her face.

Stunned, I murmured, “Thank you,” and half-turned to the plate glass window. Gazing on dark buildings and empty streets I slowly shook my head. Exhausted already, I could not imagine my state after reaching Grand Rapids tomorrow: twelve hours here and four more on the road. Sixteen hours? I closed my eyes, sighed and stood a few moments absorbing the facts.

Taking a breath, I opened my eyes and looked at the wall clock: 8:30. That’s when I planned to end my “silent journey” — only in Grand Rapids! A helpless feeling began to rise from my gut and I calmed myself. OK… OK… It’s still a good time to start talking again… I’ll call JK. Turning my back on the ivory- tiled information area, I looked through the passage and saw two stranded passengers sprawled on smooth curved benches, heads on their duffles. I pulled my cell phone from my can-vas bag. Stepping into the wide hall at the waist of the figure- 8, I pushed out the side through a set of glass doors. Alone in a quiet foyer between the terminal and more glass portals to a side street, I punched 1-352- and waited as the Florida phone rang.

“Hello,” came a familiar but formal baritone.

“Hi, Sweetheart! It’s your wife.”

His voice softened, “Hello Sweetheart! It’s good to hear your voice. How was your trip?”

I paused. “Honey… I’m not done yet.” Silence filled his response time so I went on, “I’m in Detroit.”


Suddenly a wave of helplessness hit me. I sniffled, then took a breath, “Yes. The bus was delayed a couple of times. Now I’m here and… well, there’s no bus to Grand Rapids until …” I paused as the enormity of twelve hours sitting in the bus terminal hit me and wailed, “ …until 8:30 tomorrow morning!”

I imagined Hubby standing in our kitchen looking out the windowed back door into our quiet green yard. Having successfully sat many a bus from Gainesville to Chicago over the past twenty years, he had approved my travel choice. Now, he was taking in my information, his mind busily working out options. After a moment he repeated, “There’s no other bus?”

“None… and David … David expects me before 10:00!” Tears welled and rolled down my cheeks as I thought of my son. I could picture him, too. By 9:00 — his usual bedtime — he’d be wearing his striped pajamas. But tonight he’d be sitting in his big red armchair by the phone in his living room. Watching TV, he’d be waiting to hear me put my key in his door.

Suddenly the levy that had been holding back frustration and disappointment sprung a leak. I blurted, “I have to be in Grand Rapids tonight. I gotta’ rest! I have to drive to Goshen for the reunion once David gets home from work tomorrow!”

My husband’s calm voice and measured words brought me back to the present,

“Can you rent a car?”

“No … Jim, I’m in downtown Detroit. NOTHING is open here. The closest car rental is the airport!”

“Is there a city bus?”

“No. Honey, this area is DOWNTOWN Detroit. No people are here this time of night. Every-thing is closed. The only way to get a rental car is to go to the airport — and — it’s m-i-l-e-s away!”

Again, tears again slid down my cheeks.

As my husband began an oral review of my situation, distractedly I gazed out the double glass doors to the side street where the yellow nose of a taxi stuck out from behind a group of men who stood together as if conferring. I looked down as my husband continued, “You’re at the station in Detroit, and you can’t get any kind of bus or rent a car…”

I glanced up and noticed an approaching bear of a man wearing all black. He stopped several feet from me, “Ma’am? Do you need a cab?”

Half-listening to JK, I responded automatically to the man in black. Shaking my head, I uttered a low, “No, thank you.”

He turned and ambled back outside stopping at the edge of the other men. As I watched his progress, I thought, Wait. I DO need a cab! I can rent a car at the airport!

Interrupting JK, I interjected, “Honey! I see taxis! I have money. I can get to the airport and rent a car!”

Keeping an eye on the man in black, I suddenly saw my situation clearly: after waiting overnight in the bus station, I’d arrive in Grand Rapids beyond exhaustion and I’d still have to get another bus or taxi to get to my son’s. By the time I got to David’s I would have had only three or four hours to sleep before I drove to my hometown. The whole point of my bus ride was to collect David, take him to visit Indiana relatives and attend my Goshen High School class reunion on Saturday. Our class reconvened every five years and I had never missed. I didn’t intend to start now.

Excited by the idea of going to the airport, I felt energy for the first time in many hours. Perked by hope, I began pulling my suitcase toward the outer glass doors and the men near the curb. I said to my listening spouse, “I’ll just get a cab here and go rent a car. Go to bed, Sweetheart. I’ll drive on to Grand Rapids tonight and call you tomorrow.”

It seemed a solution. “OK,” my husband intoned adding, “Be careful! …I love you.”

“God bless you,” I responded, disconnecting as I reached the glass doors. The man in black approach-ed me for a reason. God is showing me the way out of my trouble!

Frances Fritzie

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