Monday, August 22, 2011

It wasn't the Rapture; they just wanted curly fries.

I'm going for the most random-sounding post title tonight, so I hope you enjoy it.

But it actually applied.   How, you ask?  Read on...

I took the Megabus to Columbus to visit my family this weekend, and the ride reminded me of a story I haven't yet blogged.  Way back in May of this year, there was a lot of talk by a fellow with a radio station about the beginning of the Rapture.  On May 21 at 6pm, to be exact.

(though nobody was exactly clear on where 6pm was guaranteed.  Time zones, you know.)

Just to be clear, I see nothing funny about the people who genuinely believed this man, to the extent of jettisoning their livelihoods and worldly possessions, and who now find themselves woefully unprepared for the current continuation of planet Earth.  I also am not amused by atheists/antitheists who used this as an excuse to lambaste Christians en masse -- heck, as a Christian I don't assume that all atheists are terrible people because of that one crazy heckler in college who assaulted the free-speech-zone-preacher!

However, this does make me chuckle.

Anyway, I wasn't too concerned about the Rapture commencing on May 21, 2011 -- my concern was so miniscule that I went ahead and booked a Megabus ticket that day to Columbus to see my sister in a production of The Drowsy Chaperone at The Ohio State University.  So unperturbed was I that I booked the bus departing Pittsburgh at 3:30pm, arriving at 7:20pm.  If the Rapture indeed arrived at 6pm, I figured I would be scooped up from somewhere along I-70.

The bus left just a little behind schedule, as buses tend to do, so we were trying to make up time when we took our single rest stop in Zanesville, Ohio (not named for Billy Zane (though it should be)).  Though I was not seriously concerned with the End Times, I did find myself checking the time a little more frequently as 6 o'clock approached.  Coincidentally, we reached Zanesville just a couple of minutes before the hour.  We all hopped off the bus and trotted in to use the facilities and fuel up at the gas station's adjoining Arby's restaurant.

By 6:15, I was thoroughly un-Raptured, back on the bus, enjoying my curly fries and roast beef.  We rolled out just as a different Megabus pulled up to the rest stop, proceeding on our journey to Columbus, the land of Butter Cows and Nationwide Insurance.  We petered along, past a cemetery, past a cornfield, past a grove of trees...

And then the driver pulled off the road without a word and turned around.

We drove back past the grove of trees, past the cornfield, past the cemetery, back towards the rest stop, because the driver had miscounted passengers by two.

My Rapture-fear-o-meter ratcheted from about a 2.3 to a 9.7 in the span of two minutes.

"Were they taken?"  I thought in a panic.  "Did the rapture actually happen?  Why are we going back along where we just were?  Is this PURGATORY?!"

Circling I-70 in eastern Ohio on a bus seemed pretty purgatorial at the time... but honestly, I would have expected purgatory to be a Greyhound, not a Megabus.

Within a matter of minutes, the whole snafu was sorted out -- a pair of college students had seen the other bus that had pulled in and thought that our bus hadn't left yet, so they were waiting in line for Arby's curly fries when they should have been re-boarding the ColumBus.  They hadn't been Raptured.  Nobody had.  Because it wasn't the Rapture.  It was just another Saturday at 6pm in (not Billy) Zanesville.

As the news reports followed about the Rapture that wasn't, I found myself thinking back to that Saturday at 6pm.  The bus really DID seem like Purgatory for a while, but I supposed the curly fries should have clued me in.  There are no curly fries in Purgatory.


Keeping in mind that second billboard -- "No one knows the day or the hour" -- it is possible that you might find yourself on a bus at the time of the actual Rapture down the line.  If you do, check for curly fries.  If there are curly fries, you're fine.

But even if there aren't, it's probably still not Purgatory.  Traveling by bus might just seem like it.

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