I am not a morning person. Ask anybody. My parents could tell you. Any of my roommates. Taking a road trip a year ago with jetlagged Marissa was tricky as she was very rise-and-shine. Sometimes I have to bargain with myself to get myself out of bed. Raughley, if you wake up you can go take a shower and then have some coffee! That’s one of my favorite incentives. Another common one, though, is the enticement of taking a nap in my second bed.
Marshrutkas are a common fixture in many parts of the word. Essentially they are mini-buses that follow a given route, but must be flagged down or told to drop you off like a taxi. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. They’re faster than buses, cheaper than taxis, and they get you where you need to go. I spent my entire stay in St. Petersburg learning the ins and outs of marshrutkas.
Here in Tbilisi they work a little differently. We pay when we get off, rather than passing our money forward to the driver. Additionally, thank to some recent municipal investment, there is a standardized fleet of intracity marshrutkas that are big, yellow, spacious, clean, and all around comfortable! This makes them the perfect candidates for my second bed.
I take marshrutkas a lot these days. I ride one to school, one from school to the language center, and often one home from there. These are long-ish trips. Usually 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic. That’s the perfect amount of time for a midday nap!
“But Raughley!” I hear my mother fretting, “You will miss your stop and ride the bus to the depot at the end of the line!” It’ll be just like that episode of Hey! Arnold where he wound up in a super sketchy part of town. But I have a secret trick to keep that from happening. It’s called, riding marshrutkas to the end of the line.
You see, I’ve got an excellent commute situation on my hands. In the mornings, when I’m dragging myself around, Star Wars thermos in hand, all I have to do is find my way across the street to the Art Museum. This is where my marshrutka fleet gathers. The first stop, the beginning of the line is practically at my house.
We drive across the whole city. Past 2/4 of Tbilisi’s McDonald’s, past the Stadium and Didube Bus Station, past a dozen hospitals. And the last stop? My school. I have fallen asleep and “passed” my stop before. But this just means that the driver puts the marshrutka in park and then sees me and yells, “Hey, Bitcho! Last stop!”
Getting from school to the language center is another matter entirely. I have to wait and flag down the marshrutka as it flies by, but then I just ride it to the language center, being careful not to miss the…last stop! That’s right! Another door-to-door service for me! Another ride in my second bed!
Today, I was sitting there, missing out on my audiobook, when I was suddenly shaken awake. A scruffy old man was sitting next to me with a concerned look on his face. He tapped me again and muttered something at me in Georgian. It took me a moment to register, but he was worriedly asking “Where do you need to get off?? You’re falling asleep and you’re going to miss it!” I thanked him, but assured him I’d be just fine. He smiled and calmed down and I returned to the bumpy hum of my second bed.