I am deeply grateful for public transit.
Just over 6 months ago, I suddenly became vehicle-free when I stopped for the traffic jam on my city’s interstate and the driver behind me did not.
I wish the collision had not occurred, but I’m grown, and shit happens. It’s part of life, and we have the opportunity to adapt and make our way through.
I am fortunate enough to work for an organization that participates in a state-wide commute reduction plan, which lets my employee ID double as a bus pass. There’s a stop just across the street from my apartment complex, and I am within walking distance to grocery, laundromats, and many other amenities.
The bus has, therefore, provided a long-temporary solution to the not-always-simple thing of getting to and from work, and around town.
My experience with public transit, like many things in life, has been a mixed bag.
- Kind smiles from mechanics on the same morning bus
- An enthusiastic toddler who sat on his knees next to me every evening, enlisting my help to search for all the signs that had the first letter of his name
- A student, whose introduction to me was a plea for help getting the bus to wait for him as he ran home to check the lock on his apartment door, giving me an encouraging “I got you” wave from the back of a crowded night bus when I appeared anxious
- Pleasant conversation with colleagues, or sometimes strangers, who want to laugh or share their stories
- Reliable transit powered by something other than my feet
I do not love:
- The waiting (so much inconvenient waiting)
- Dirty seats
- Collective BO on warm days when air conditioning is not working properly
- Close-sitting people and mandatory shared space. (I itched for a day and a half and had nightmares of infestation after I was on the same bus as someone who exclaimed that a bed bug crawled up onto his clothing. Not my favorite.)
- The constant undercurrent of fat shaming and daily reminders that I cannot instantly shrink my body to take up less space in the world
- Disdain people convey about the "type of person" who rides the bus. (I don’t like that I resist being associated with that stereotype, too.)
Riding the bus for me is a privilege and an inconvenience; it’s a bit new and a bit mundane, and, like most things in life, holds many contradictions.
In the moments of stillness that I catch while waiting, I have time to see beyond the monotony and contemplate some truths: We are all soft animals, easily wounded and at the same time glorious and resilient beyond measure. One no better than the other...all of us just trying to make the next connection, which sometimes leads us to unexpected adventure or sadness or more labor, and other times to community, and rest,and home.
For this bounty, I give thanks.
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