Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I have two big failings in life:

1. Procrastination.
2. Trying to do too much.

Today was a perfect example – this morning I was teaching in Highland Park for the Institute of Commercial Education New Zealand, then in the afternoon I was missionarying for the Christian Broadcasting Association over in Penrose, and then this evening I was to teach back at the school again.

Like it or not, I have three days a week like this at the moment!

And, would you believe, I do all my journeying between the two… by bus.

So this evening, in trying to get too much done, I left CBA late and hastily strode up the Great South Road for 15 minutes as usual to Ellerslie, where I missed my bus.

35 minutes to go until the lesson would start. Oh dear. I always caught a 50 or a 51, and neither of them were due for another half-hour. That meant I was going to be late for my own class. It’s one thing to be late when just one or two people are waiting for you, but a small class of paying customers is another matter.

So I said the customary prayer at the bus stop, and a bus from a different route showed-up – a 52. It suddenly occurred to me that the 52 might – just might - be going as far as the school before turning off towards Bucklands Beach, and maybe I’d always had the option of catching 52s to the school, and just never realised it.

So, figuring that he would never have heard of the little Chinese school that I work at, I decided to use the supermarket near the school as an easily identifiable reference point (since it was on the 50/51 route) and asked the driver “Are you going to Pakuranga Plaza?” and he said “yes.”


Scarcely believing my simple luck I enthusiastically got on, thanked him, swiped my Howick & Eastern Buses Ezi Pass, sat down and cheerfully began looking out of the window at all the familiar buildings passing-by.

25 minutes to go.

I remembered an occasion about a year and a half ago, when I’d been on my way to the Excel School of Performing Arts in New Lynn, when I’d prayed that God would provide a bus for me even if it hadn’t been going there. On that occasion God had indeed supplied a bus, and I’d had to walk the last bit. A good compromise, and a collaboration that increasingly reflects how I believe God actually works together with us in our lives, rather than the total 100% domination that so many Christians seem to suffer tunnel-vision from.

Anyway, as I was sitting there on the bus I suddenly remembered that actually... I didn't want to go to Pakuranga Plaza. I’d asked if we were going to Pakuranga Plaza, but I’d meant to ask if we were going to Countdown in Highland Park, some ten minutes further up the road. I had asked the driver if he was going to the wrong supermarket.

This might not be good.

So I left everything rushing past the window to approach the driver, and asked something like “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean Pakuranga Plaza, I meant to ask are you going to Countdown in Highland Park?”

And he said “yes.”


Once more I thanked him for his help, returned to my seat and again proceeded to enjoy the child-like pleasure of watching all the familiar buildings scrolling past my view outside.

And then he said “no.”

Somewhere along the line the driver had also remembered that, despite having said “yes”, actually he wasn’t going as far as Countdown in Highland Park after all. This time he’d got the wrong supermarket. Sorry. I’d have to get off when he turned away from my route then I’d have to wait for a different bus.

Now this really was bad news, because apart from being late to my class of students again, my Howick & Eastern Buses Ezi Pass had run out of credit when I’d got on… just like my wallet had earlier in the day. Now I didn’t have any way to even pay for another bus, let alone the taxi that I now needed.

This paragraph is only here to provide a pause in the otherwise breathtaking non-stop what-will-happen-next action. Been to the fridge? Got a drink? Sitting down again? Good.

So then suddenly he says to me that he’ll take me to Countdown in Highland Park anyway, even though it’s not on his route.

He proposes that when we turn off Pakuranga Road and start to head away from my destination, I should actually stay on the bus, and then when he’s swung by Bucklands Beach and finished his route, he’ll drive me all the way back to Countdown Highland Park, because, y’know, he’s going that way anyway, because he has to drive the bus back to the depot or something.

“How long will that take?” I ask suspiciously.

Not long, he assures me. How long is not long, I ask. Only about ten minutes, he asserts.

Goble decides whether to remain on the 52 bus

So with ten minutes to go until my class starts, I’m on a bus heading away from the school.

The clock’s ticking, one-by-one people are getting off at their stops, and I’m turning over in my mind the freakish chances of how a passenger can actually state HIS OWN DESTINATION WRONGLY, AND a bus driver can then state HIS OWN DESTINATION WRONGLY, both in the SAME encounter. And my stomach doesn’t like this, mainly because all those oh-so-familiar buildings going past my window are now oh-so-UNfamiliar.

Every so often though I did catch a fleeting glimpse of a place I hadn’t been to in ages. The Macleans College bus-stop, Bucklands Beach and the always-amusingly-named Pigeon Mountain Road. Suddenly we whizzed past a green car that I’d seen parked on Queen Street outside Rhema about two years ago with the numberplate “A JEDI”. Well it was nice to see that again.

Finally, so close to 7pm that it was minutes either way, we pulled-up opposite Countdown in Highland Park, I thanked the driver, exchanged first names with him, jumped out and he pulled-away.

As I started to cross the road towards Aberfeldy Avenue where my evening class would be waiting inside the school, I reflected on how ironic my decision to ask the driver if he was going to such an easily identifiable reference as Countdown supermarket had been. I really should have just asked him if he went past my little-known off-road Chinese school that he would never have heard of. For at that moment he turned down that road and drove straight past it.


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