Amputees often experience something called Phantom Limb Syndrome where they perceive sensations in the limb as if it was still attached to their body. I suffer from a similar but much less well-known, and completely self-diagnosed condition called Phantom Locks Syndrome.
It’s derived from the luscious, coffee brown mane that used to fall all the way down to my shoulders, and since cutting the hair to a more manageable, classic cut I have missed it like it was an irreplaceable part of me. I feel it much better matched my desire to be in the outdoors, to rough it and travel the country wearing heather-washed flannel shirts and sleep under the stars.
But 3 weeks ago the dream to travel the country was actualized, despite not looking the part.
We bought a school bus.
The plan was to paint the bus black and decal it with the NEU logo, parading it around the country to build our brand and sell merchandise at events- like the Forbes Under 30 Summit that took place with over 5000 attendees in Boston a week ago.
We had exactly one week, Monday to Friday, to transform this yellow school bus into a symbol of NEU, and drive it to the Forbes event from Philadelphia to Boston (and eventually back the next Wednesday). Luckily, like all startups with fridges of organic coconut water we pride ourselves on grit and self-reliance. So Monday the 10th Darren, Ethan, and I, with absolutely zero know-how, arrived at our warehouse parking lot to get started.
Monday, October 10th: Scrub-a-dub-dub
Darren and I immediately found our new happy place- the top of the bus, where the chaos of a startup office can’t reach you. Armed with scotch-brite we spent the whole day scrubbing the bus clean of dirt and gloss. You should see Darren’s forearms now.
Tuesday, October 11th: Prime Time
Ethan, the always-on-top-of-things-man, led the charge on priming the bus a stone cold gray. Our twice-daily trips to the hardware store (there’s a reason it’s called “Home” Depot) bonded us as we feverishly worked to rid the bus of any yellow spots.
Wednesday, October 12th: Blackout
With the deadline fast approaching it finally felt like we were making some progress. After every black stroke we became more and more convinced that this whole thing might actually work, and in our excitement we went to rev up the bus….. naturally, it didn’t start.
Thursday, October 13th: Uh-Oh
As you can tell by Ethan’s face, we were worried. Thursday morning the bus went into the shop and we returned to our ‘real jobs’ to make backup arrangements for travel and ensure all the merchandise would make it to Boston. Everything was fine….
Friday, October 14th: Back In Action
With our good cop, Ethan and our bad cop, Elyse pressuring the auto shop we were able to get back to work at 1pm on Friday- putting the second coat on, detailing, removing the tape, and finally, painting on the NEU logo. Five, well really four days, and we had done it.
Now we just had to get it to Boston. Correction, I had to get it to Boston….
After a quick jumpstart of the bus Saturday morning I got behind the wheel of the behemoth for the first time. And, ya know, drove it to Boston with Darren and Elyse, two human lives, aboard for the ride. Sure, people screamed in terror as I swerved from lane to lane, exiting the freeway to avoid losing our heads by ramming into the low-hanging overpass, but other than that there were no hiccups.
She purred the whole way there, even as I backed her down the steps of City Plaza in the dark. Best of all, the bus was absolutely raved about at the Forbes Summit where we also just so happened to sell out of nearly everything.
Stressful as it was, we had a blast getting it ready, driving to Boston, running the pop-up shop, and meeting the mechanic who hot-wired the bus with screwdrivers when it inevitably didn’t start as we tried to leave to head back home to Philly.
I may not have the mane anymore but the Phantom Locks Syndrome has been completely cured, by this bus, which still needs a name. Currently we're considering The NEU-Sense and The Phila-Buster. Feel free to add your own suggestion!
Oh, and lastly, the mechanic gave me the screwdrivers…. so you may just see us rolling into your city soon.