Taking the Bus

There are disadvantages to not driving and not having a car.  These are fairly obvious, but I'll list a few: public transportation in America doesn't have great infrastructure, waiting for a bus can be nerve wracking when you need to get somewhere on time, and it can just be inconvenient.  There are more serious disadvantages, like being dependent on some else's schedule especially if an emergency situation comes up.  (I thought about this the other week when there was an accident involving a mandolin.  What would I have done if it had been more serious?  Probably called one of my coworkers or someone from church.)

However, there are also a lot of advantages, which I've been thinking about these past few months.  (Mostly to the not having a car part.)

Here are a few.

  • Cars are expensive.  Gas is expensive.  Insurance is expensive.
  • When it's cold, I don't have to try to get the car to start.  (Granted, if the buses are not running, that's another issue...)
  • I get more exercise than I would otherwise.  I walk an extra half mile-mile most days.  
  • I have to be organized and disciplined because I do have to work on someone else's schedule.  If I miss the bus that comes once an hour, I'll be late for work.  The end.
  • I get a lot more time to read than I would otherwise (and will have even more when the weather is nicer and my hands don't freeze when they're out of my pockets!)  Since I get to work early and am usually there a little late waiting for the bus, I have all that time in Panera, plus another 20 minutes or so on the bus... quality reading time!
  • Friends.  More chances to laugh.  Because a lot of people ride the same buses all the time...

So here's the story from today.

I got out of work just a bit too late to catch the 135 that was going up the road, so I waited.

I walked a bit to the sheltered bus stop and waited some more.

A man who I didn't recognize came in, and I stood up to watch for the bus.  And we waited.  He complained about how the area around the shelter wasn't cleared out well at all.  And then another man, this one who I do know, showed up.  My old Italian buddy, an engineer.  He and I ride the bus together all the time.  He has cataracts, which is why he doesn't drive.  He talks to me about languages and jobs and politics, and since the bus makes so much noise, I don't actually know much about what his views on these topics are, just that he has a lot of opinions.  Sometimes we talk about cooking, because we both enjoy that.  Another woman joined us in the shelter; I didn't recognize her and no wonder, she says that she doesn't usually ride the bus.

We waited.

I stood with a foot on top of the mound of snow and ice blocking the doorway of the shelter, popping my head out now and again to see if the bus was coming.

"Hey," someone said, "there it is!"

"Are you sure?" I asked.  "That doesn't have the lights on it."

"They have some Greyhound type buses," said the guy who I didn't know.  "Just for the 135.  No lights on the front.  You'll have to wave at them to get them to stop.  They can't really see us, the shelter is so dirty."

More complaints about the status of the shelter.

The bus-with-no-lights came closer and I swung out of the shelter, holding onto part of the doorframe.


"That's not a bus!"

"It's a UPS truck!"

"Thanks a lot, guys!" I scolded them.  "I see how it is, you just want to throw me on a truck..."

"I bet he wondered why you were waving at him!"

"You were just that happy to see the package truck!"

A few minutes later...

"I think I see the bus now."

"Are you sure it's not another truck?" I grumbled.  "I think you're just trying to get rid of me."

My Italian friend leaned over to me with a wink.  "The next one may be a garbage truck!"

If I had my own car, I'd miss out on those moments.  So I'd love the convenience of having my own vehicle... but I love the community of taking the bus.


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