Monthly Archives: April 2018

Tales from the Bus

This weekend was my first Blue and White outing.  After working for Penn State for 15 years, I finally ventured to campus on game day.  One of the reasons I’ve never done it before was because I didn’t want to deal with the issue of how to get to campus.  I could drive and park in the East Deck, but then I would have to deal with the frustration of traffic and I would have to avoid adult beverages.  I could take a cab or Uber, but that gets expensive when you are dealing with big campus events when rides are in high demand.  So I returned to a blast from my past from the days when I lived and worked in Chicago.  I decided to take the bus.

We are fortunate that we have pretty good public transit available in State College.  My husband and I will from time to time take the bus to concerts at the State Theatre and then Uber home afterward, to allow for safe consumption of adult beverages without breaking the bank on transportation costs.  But traveling solo on Blue & White weekend, I decided that the bus both directions was the way to go.  So I put a couple of tokens in my pocket and my Kindle in my backpack and off I went.

There is a bus stop a block or so from my house in Park Forest.  And the W bus has always been pretty darned empty when I’ve ridden it.  When I got on the bus, this was true.  But as soon as the bus arrived at The Heights, we were suddenly jam-packed with undergrads headed to campus for tailgating and the game.  With each stop the bus became more and more like a sardine can as students continued to pile on and no one got off.  I never did pull out my Kindle.  The people on the bus where quite enough entertainment for my 30 minute ride.  When we finally arrived at my stop near the Creamery, I was relieved to get out into the fresh air and walk over to the law school.

After a fun afternoon of blowing off steam with the law students (thanks for making me feel so welcome at the tailgate!) I knew it was time to find my way back to the bus.  I briefly considered summoning an Uber, but decided to stick to my guns on not spending extra money.  I returned to the same bus stop where I got off….and discovered that I had just missed the W.  This meant either a very long wait, or a re-route.  I saw a V bus heading around the corner, took a quick look at the CATA app on my phone, and knew that this bus was my answer.  I became one of the sardines boarding at a very popular stop.  Standing room only.  I asked a young man to give up his seat for a pregnant woman, but I don’t think he was thinking clearly at the time.  The pregnant woman decided it was easier to stand.  The entertainment value of the clientele was multiplied on the way home, as many had been indulging in more than just football. The bus continued to fill up as we wound through campus, but started to empty as soon as we hit College Avenue.  But things were pretty crowded from the start, so I didn’t find myself in a seat until well into my journey.  But finally we stopped at Wegmans, where I got out to grab some things for dinner.  I got my food and walked the half of a mile home, pleased with how the day had gone.

Is the bus the most comfortable way to travel?  Probably not.  Is it the quickest?  Definitely not.  But will it get you where you are going in an efficient way for just a little bit of money?  Absolutely.  And if you are looking for an entertaining study in human behavior, the bus on game day can DEFINITELY provide that!



Tax Refund?

I finally filed my taxes!  Ok…just the federal.  The state and local are on deck for tonight.  But the worst of it is done!  (Insert happy dance here.)

The first question that pops into people’s minds when you say you finished your taxes is, “How much are you getting back?”  My answer is that I’m not getting anything back.  I had to pay.  I had to pay exactly one dollar.  And you may think that I did something wrong that I’m not about to receive a sudden windfall.  But I think it’s just the opposite.  I did something almost exactly right.  I only missed by one dollar.  I didn’t let the US Treasury hold onto a lot of my money throughout the year.  And I didn’t have to write a giant check.  I had the withholding correct within one dollar.  And that’s about as right as you can be.

A big tax refund can feel great.  But what it really means is that you have been loaning your money to the government throughout the year.  And at tax time they pay it back to you.  Without interest.  Instead of being in someone else’s hands, my excess funds were in my hands.  Earning interest for me.  Paying bills.  Buying concert and music festival tickets.  If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Tax refunds are nice.  Not owing is nice.  Being right on track is even better.