Peter Bell Stood Me Up!
It was not only rude, but caddish. Here's what happened: I was stranded downtown after work on a recent Wednesday because my carpool home had fallen through. I had begged a ride off my friend Richard who works in a clothing store in Gaviidae, but soon realized I was not up to waiting two hours until 7:00 p.m. when he got off. I was not feeling well and just wanted to get home. I had also been at the dentist that morning, and the whole experience was turning my stomach.
I considered calling a cab, but I had been out the night before and taken a cab home and thought I should not be spending so much on cabs because who knows how long the bus strike will go on. So I started calling around for rides, to no avail. I got a lot of voice mail, and then realized that several people I thought would be accommodating were out of town for spring break. I was frustrated. Then I thought of Peter Bell.
I have had Mr. Bell's office number programmed into my cell phone since the strike began because I call him occasionally to express my views or to update him on the daily hassles of the strike. I've always gotten voice mail. I pulled up the number and hit send. He answered.
"This is Theresa. I'm stranded in downtown Minneapolis because my carpool fell through this evening, and I was wondering if you could pick me up."
"You will? Really? Great! I tried calling a couple of people before I called you but I couldn't reach them. What time can you make it?"
"Five minutes? Really? Okay. Where should I meet you?"
"Just tell me where. Give me a location."
"In front of Bruegger's at Gaviidae, on Sixth Street."
"Okay. Five minutes."
"Great. What kind of car should I be looking for?"
"Volkswagen. Beetle. Green."
"Okay, I'll be out there right on the sidewalk. See you soon! Thank you!" I was psyched.
Maybe he wanted to show that he's not as callous as people think, that he's willing to pitch in and help. Maybe he wanted to try to persuade me to his side. Or maybe he just wanted to finally meet me. I don't know! I was just happy for the ride.
"Richard, Peter Bell is picking me up." Richard was exiting a room at the back of the clothing store.
"No way. He is not."
"Yes he is."
"I just spoke with him. He's coming to pick me up in a green Volkswagen beetle in front of Bruegger's in five minutes. I have to go right now. Bye!"
I rode down the escalator and walked outside to the sidewalk in front of Bruegger's. It was 5:40 p.m. How could he get here in five minutes? Where is his office anyway? In St. Paul? That's impossible--he'd never get here in five minutes. Wait! He's a U of M regent--that's it, he has an office at the U of M, and he's coming from there! And he knows a quick route. Maybe he has a special sign on his car as head of the Met Council that allows him to bypass traffic and drive on the shoulder and run red lights and stuff. Or maybe he gets a police escort. I don't know! I just wanted the ride. He said five minutes, and I believed him.
5:55 p.m. Of course I'd give him extra time. He probably misjudged traffic. Or maybe he got a phone call just as he was leaving the office. I had on a light spring jacket and wasn't prepared for the cold temperatures and the wind whipping through the cavern between the buildings. I was freezing. But I didn't want to step inside because I thought I might miss him.
6:00 p.m. He wouldn't stand me up. That would be too mean. But I was a little concerned. And cold. So I called his office. Voice mail.
"Hi Peter, it's Theresa. I'm standing on the sidewalk in front of Bruegger's and have been since we hung up, but I haven't seen you yet. I really hope you're coming because if you don't, I have no way home. I'd call you on your cell, but I don't have the number. I'll keep waiting. If you get this message, call me." I left my number.
I kept waiting. He never showed up. That was really mean.
Editor's Note: We reached Met Council Chair Peter Bell at his office (direct line, 651.602.1453). He remembered Theresa Sheehy and the conversation in which he offered her a ride, but says he thought she was being sarcastic: "I get a ton of these calls. I can't imagine anyone would call up a stranger and ask them for a ride. That is bizarre to me. When I said yes, I wasn't being serious. She thought I was someone who gave rides to people inconvenienced by the strike. That's not a credible position to take in my opinion."
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