My first experience on a bus was in second grade, I was 7 years old. I was at a new school, in a new town, without any older siblings in Elementary School to show me the way to get home, I had no idea what I was doing. So I get on the school bus that will take me to the High School, where I am supposed to get off to walk home before the high school kids get on to be taken to their homes out in the country in the middle of nowhere Idaho. Well, I didn't know this. So I rode around in the bus until I was the last person left, and I'm sobbing because I don't know where I am, we're in the middle of the country and the bus driver asks me where I'm supposed to be. I responded with "home." But I'm not quite sure where that is.
Well, you could say this experience scarred me. I don't take public transportation. It's not that I have never, because I have, and the world hasn't ended. Hell has, as far as I am aware, yet to freeze over. I prefer my car. I prefer my independence, my freedom to turn on my car at whatever time of day and just go.
This weekend, my car decided to turn on me, and spray exhaust into the air so thick that I couldn't see a foot behind me. Well, that's not going to get me to work! I live too far away to walk. I can't rent a car because I'm not quite old enough to do so, and honestly, I'm too poor to go that route anyway. Which leaves me with one option: public transportation.
I'm lucky to live in a city that has made public transportation a priority in the last decade. We have an above ground subway system (called Trax) that will take me about 100 miles in total. But I have to take a bus to get there. Trax, in my mind, is a piece of cake. It's not scary, if they played "muzac" it would just feel like a horizontal elevator ride. The bus on the other hand, well that's scary. What if I don't know where to get off? What if I have to sit next to some smelly old person that spits when they talk, and they talk to strangers, or worse, themselves?!
However, a few days into this lesson on humility, and I'm quite relieved to discover that hell still hasn't frozen over. As I sat next to a lady jabbering away on her cell phone today, talking about her teenage daughter's suicide attempt and subsuquent hospital stay and her finally finding a place for them to rent, a 1 bedroom apartment in an almost decent neighborhood, I began to realize that this is where it's at. The real life day to day things that happen, the people who have struggled, the people who still struggle, this is where we get to hear their stories, even if they don't realize that I'm listening behind my headphones plugged into nothing.
I'm not promising to renounce my car once it's fixed (or after I buy a new one depending on the severity of the problem), but this is a good way for me to open up to the idea that taking the bus really is not the end of the world. Hell, I might feel more compassion and love for my fellow earth travellers by doing so, and this world needs a little more of that going around.
Plus, I haven't had to pay for downtown parking!