A blessing in disguise; how a bus cancelation and a walking trip made memories for a group of friends

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On April 1 Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas announced that Access Public Transportation was stopping all services at 6 p.m. April 3. These services include Safe Ride and Tiger Transport. This became a problem for students who do not have a vehicle or ride, and live on campus. However, there are always more solutions than problems.

After the announcement of the transportation cancelations, some international students on campus planned an ordinary walking trip to the supermarket; however, it turned out to be an unforgettable trip in its own way.

“We heard from friends that some goods would be out of stock [in the] afternoon at Dillons. But there are many customers in the morning, so we decided that as soon as it opened, we would get there,” said Wenqi Zhang, an international student who lives on campus. “We just finished our comprehensive exam on Saturday afternoon, so we planned to go to the supermarket the next morning. Dillons is not far from our campus; we could walk over.”

Being the first time walking as a group to the store, the plan was cause for excitement for many.

“Because Dillon’s opens at 7 a.m., we planned to leave at 6:30 a.m.,” Nana Wen said. “I was a little bit excited so that I did not sleep until 3 a.m. that night, and I got up at 6 a.m. on Sunday.”

At 6 a.m., Hays is still not bright, the moon is still hanging in the sky, and the street lights are still on. And no one is on the street. As time goes on, the sky gradually started to lighten up, but the fog was still there, and the vision was not very clear.

“Along the way, I was particularly sleepy. I was so sleepy that I didn’t want to talk, but my friend kept talking in the back,” Yahui Hou said. “I was curious that she only slept for three hours. Why didn’t she feel sleepy? She said that she was sleepy, but the joy of being with us made her less sleepy.”

When the group arrived that morning, there was still a lot of goods in Dillons, and the staff was busy stocking shelves. There are not many people inside, so patrons could maintain a sufficient social distance.

“Because we all wear masks and gloves, an old gentleman said he liked my mask,” Zhang said. “Later when there were more customers, we left.”

There are many road signs on Dillon’s way to campus, and these road signs are their goals. They stopped many times because there were so many goods they bought. 

“We feel that the way back has become very long, because we have rested many times between us, and we can’t walk with so many things for too long,” Wen said.

There is an idiom in China called a loss, no bad thing, which means that although it is temporarily lost, it may also bring benefits. Their story is like this idiom.

“Although I was tired along the way, I made this sweet memory with my friends,” Zhang said. 

Although the Safe Ride and Tiger Transport were canceled, there are many other transportation options available, such as BMB Taxi, Convenience Cab and Uber. However, many international students aren’t using these forms of transportation during this time because they felt it was unsafe, especially during this unique period. 

“If we choose other means of transportation, we cannot avoid contact with people we do not understand. My parents hope that we can avoid contact with people during this period,” Hou said. 

Reducing contact with others is a good way to maintain social distance.

For those in the group, the distance of walking to the supermarket and back didn’t cross their minds, or at least wasn’t as important. 

“Actually, I never thought about how to come back. I don’t think it matters. The important thing is that we got up early and walked to the supermarket,” Hou said, “I have a lot of things I want to do with my friends, such as watching the sunrise together, but I haven’t thought about making it this way.”

If life can be written as a book, this experience will become a highlight.

“Although the epidemic made our lives difficult, on the other hand, it also allowed us to get along with our partners more,” Wen said. “Although the suspension of the Tiger Route is unfortunate for us, we have obtained unforgettable memories with our partners, which is also a blessing.”

Indeed, in this particular period, both study and life are a bit different from before. But we still have to be optimistic. With friends, any difficulty is not difficult.

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