I am the Bear Claw King of Orlando. It’s not like I just said “I am the Bear Claw King of New York” or anything. That would be tantamount to saying “I am the Bear Claw King of the World.” I am not prepared to go that far—yet. It was really kind of surprising. I still do no subscribe to the notion that can be categorized as a type of person, a type of person locked into the black and white world of the sweet and savory, but it was about a year ago when I began to let go. It was particularly acute in the morning. I turned to pastries. Flaky, delicious, almond pastries. It’s not like I had an armament of delicacies. The need for a fix can come and go. With a car it’s not like I need excised forethought for those moments to throw self control to the wind. I can wake up and make it happen. Yeah, maybe I’d take the opportunity to pick up some espresso or creamer, but the action of getting into my car for the sole purpose of bear claw acquisition may give me some reason for this aggrandizing self appointment. But what if I didn’t have a car?
Would I, the Bear Claw King of Orlando, be ruled by convenience? I needed to know. I needed to embark on an experiment in all likelihood. What is documented here is a mere sketch of this experiment. My life is the substance. I’ve timed out how long it takes to get what I need where I need it. Bear claws in my belly. Whether I drive a car, go it alone on foot, or ride the bus, I now know what it is going to take.
Nothing was out of the ordinary. I grabbed my keys and hit the door. I was off to the local grocery mart. Sixteen minutes and ten seconds later I’m at home with two bear claws and an espresso tamper in hand. There is not too much defense of the throne needed here.
Walking would present even more ground for my rightful despotism. That is if I had bought a bear claw. I am willing to risk detriment to my self-legitimatizing ethos by the admission that, well, I didn’t buy a bear claw on this trip. Now I did simulate walking through the store and checking out in order to get an accurate measure of time, but I simply did not want to carry anything home. I know. How can I call myself the Bear Claw King of Orlando when I wouldn’t even have a bear claw to lord? Well, I would like to assure you that appropriation did occur when I took the bus. I mean, if you are are going to take the bus, you should get something for it, right? Anyway, on my walk to the store I did take note of someone I passed. I did not have any idea of where they were going until I passed them again on the way back. They had grocery bags in hand. So much for the old adage of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes while carrying their grocery bags. One hour, eleven minutes, and forty-six seconds.
Apart from the joy of high school, I had never taken a bus before. There was quite a long period of time where my wife and I shared a car. During that period I would ride my bike back and forth to work. It was about eight miles one way. That’s not really putting in distance, and truly, it did not take that much longer than if I had sat in traffic the whole way. Even now I am not opposed to the idea of sharing one car as a fixed practicality. I had never once thought about taking the bus though. Getting a bear claw was going to be my first experience with Orlando public transit.
I left the house to catch the Lynx 15. I waited on the bench of Bumby and Curry Ford while I jotted down a few ideas to write about. I was happy to have discovered the tutorial videos while navigating the Lynx website that without which I wouldn’t have even known what to expect by way of how much or how to pay the fare. The ticket printed up slower than I anticipated, and I was almost on my way to sit down as I reached back to grab the ticket through the awkwardness of the bus lunging forward. I was not on very long, and after a few stops I was zigzagging the parking lots surrounding the bear claw store. There was a moment when I was really enjoying the playfulness of my day, and I believe that moment was imbued with the startling desire to experience more things in life. I streamed down the familiar pastry pathway, and with a bear claw in hand I proceeded to the checkout. Making my way back to the nearest bus stop at Conway and Curry Ford my walk was wrought with the question of to jaywalk or not to jaywalk. I used the crosswalk at Conway. It seemed like a good idea at the time. The abrasive sirens and general commotion of the firetrucks and ambulances blazing down the wrong side of the road to get through the intersection were quite convincing. After the scene had settled I found myself in the median as I jaywalked Curry Ford.
The bus trip home was an entirely different experience. Here I was, this idiot with a bear claw at twelve in the afternoon. I boarded the bus and fumbled around with my transfer ticket. It was not going through. The driver looked it over and informed me that there was no use for a transfer if I was on the same route. I took a seat in the crowded blur. While getting on the bus my journal had fallen out of my pocket and someone was kind enough to hand it to me. I noticed the text overhead directing passengers to exit at the rear of the bus. I had not seen that at my initial stop where I had cut off a father and son while exiting the front of the bus. I was determined to do it right this time. I missed alerting for my stop, but there was another one equidistant from the corner of Curry Ford as the bus turned right onto Bumby. The driver stopped, and I got up to exit at the rear, but I take it that there is no need to open both front and rear doors when no one is getting on the bus at the same time, so I awkwardly turned back towards the front of the bus. Everyone must have known I was a tourist. I don’t like fumbling around, and as I waited at the crosswalk I understood how fleeting that feeling of invigoration can be. I’m not trying to be dramatic. I was a little deflated. I walked home disillusioned with my title. Forty-four minutes and forty-nine seconds.
I believe a king has in mind the good of those he serves. I will not abdicate the throne. For I am not using the vehicle of the Bear Claw King of Orlando to make a mockery of people who use public transportation. My interest is more in making a mockery of myself. Perhaps it might show how my trivial escapades cower before the dignity that there is in navigating this life even if by bus. There is some currency in experience. I’m glad I got to experience what it is like to miss the bus. I left that part out. It humbles even a king.
This blog post was originally published on TrIP: The Knight, Fantastic blog.