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A Bargain? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     "I swear," my sister Norah argued. "It's only 15 dollars and goes from Chinatown in Boston to Chinatown in New York City."

"How can that be?" I retorted skeptically. "You can't get anywhere for 15 bucks, especially not New York."

"Here it is," she said, as we walked with our luggage by the towering Chinese gate in Boston. Bells rang as I opened the door, and the peculiar smell of fresh pastries combined with smoke hit me as I entered the Crown Royal Bakery. It was entirely empty, except for an authoritative-looking middle-aged Chinese woman who appeared to be running the show from a small table in the far corner.

"Two tickets to New York City on the Fung Wah Bus, please," said my sister.

"Thirty," she replied.

The lady exchanged our money for two tickets in the fastest interaction I've ever seen and directed us toward a mini-bus parked outside.

"See," my sister said. "You can get places for 15 bucks. You don't always need to spend $150 on a train ticket." I gave her a mocking look.

"Well, we aren't actually there yet, are we?" I retorted.

Now, you must be thinking, Fifteen bucks? A dingy bakery? This is one sketchy situation. Well, if you couldn't tell, I fully agreed. But looking around the bus I was pleasantly surprised to conclude that it was, in fact, 10 times better than Greyhound. No one smelled of stale beer or reeked of B.O. The windows weren't plastered with a mysterious film, and the seats didn't feel like the cushions had been removed with only the frame remaining. No, the Fung Wah bus was quite the opposite. Most of the passengers appeared to be Chinese businessmen who, upon leaving Boston, all proceeded to take out their computers and write endless streams of important letters to whomever they may concern.

I was just about to congratulate my sister for stumbling upon such a treasure when the bus pulled over into the breakdown lane. Apparently we had passed a split in the highway and the driver didn't know which way to go. He said something unintelligible and a moment later a rush of loud noise erupted as everyone began speaking Chinese.

The man in front of me began to shout angrily at the driver. By this time I was very confused, not to mention alarmed. My sister gave me a wide-eyed look.

"What are they saying, huh? What's going on?" I asked her, alarmed.

"Yeah," she retorted sarcastically. "Like I know Chinese." I laughed.

"Right. Sorry," I said giving her a facetious smile. The guy across from my sister interjected, "The driver says he doesn't know which way to go because he doesn't know English and can't read the sign." At that point the driver and another man got up abruptly, left the bus, and began walking back to read the sign. The angry man continued to rant, pacing up and down the aisle, clearly disgusted that the driver could not read English, and he was forced to be involved in such a dilemma. As the driver re-entered the bus, most of the passengers stood and harsh conversation exploded again. The driver shouted something about five times and everyone plopped back into their seats, mumbling.

The driver, now very irritated, backed up in the breakdown lane, crossed three lanes of traffic and merged into the left fork, where the highway split. After five minutes everyone gradually calmed down and returned to their work. Wow, I thought, laughing to myself. That was a rather weird experience, but at least there's no more confusion about which way New York City is.

I was gazing out the window when I happened to read a passing sign. No, I thought. That can't be right! We couldn't possibly be ... I turned to my sister frantically.

"Norah! Norah, that sign ... it said ... no, it must have been wrong. It said 'Boston 100 miles.' Oh my God, we're on the highway back to Boston. Norah, quick what do we do?" The guy across the aisle heard me and yelled to the driver, telling him of his latest blunder. This triggered another outburst and a jumble of Chinese words. The

driver realized his mistake and began to shout to himself, hitting his forehead with his hand. Just then we approached an exit and in a moment of recklessness, the driver spun the wheel. I looked out the window only to realize that he was making a U-turn across four lanes of traffic and a huge Mack truck was heading directly at us. I thought I was going to die. This is it, I said to myself. I'm going to be crushed by a truck on my way to New York ... all for 15 dollars. In a flash of two seconds I saw the truck swerve, just missing us. My heart was pounding so loud I couldn't hear a thing. We exited the highway safely and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

As my sister and I stumbled off the bus in New York, we agreed that the hustle and bustle of Canal Street looked like heaven. I guess my sister was right: 15 dollars can get you a long way ... if you're lucky.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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