Monday, May 28, 2012

The Bus

More than a few things have been afoot in the three months since this blog was updated. Shame on me, I suppose. The sad part: it hasn't been from lack of topics. From rants to travel to travel rants and whatnot, I'm often hit with ideas. I should make a note to write them down (which, incidentally, jotting such a reminder would require I have some sort of habit of writing these sorts of things down anyhow).

All I've been up to is working like crazy, traveling a bunch (including to Prague) and moving from a downtown apartment to a lovely craftsman-style house in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood.

One thing this has changed is my commute. No longer do I walk out the front door, hang two rights and, voila, end up at work. Instead, I am among the masses riding the bus into town.

I will always love the time I got to walk to work. But I forgot how much I enjoy mass transit.

If you live in a city with a decent subway or if you are fortunate to live in a place where the bus isn't something relegated for use by poor people, mass transit can be one of the nicer parts of the day.

If you like to people watch, there is nothing better. We all have our routines, which means that, on the bus or train, you end up seeing the same people every day. In NYC, it was down to the train car; people stand at the same spot on the same platform every day and you end up riding in a car with the same folks every day. If you're single, maybe there's that person you hope is on every day so you can steal a look. For others, maybe it's seeing some eccentric person or seeing the same couple got on together every day and building up a narrative for them in your mind. You start to miss/worry about "regulars" who you don't see for a week or two. (Do they worry about me?) All from behind the safety of your iPod headphones. People watching is a great time.

Music listening is another. I know, I know... you can listen to whatever you want in your car. There is something about taking music with you onto the bus or train, though. It really is that wall of safety. No one ever wanted to make contact with another person on the train in NYC. But a crazy person could get your attention. With your headphones in, no one can bother you. It's you and the soundtrack of your day... and you never have to hit the gas pedal. You literally get to sit and watch the world go by.

And mass transit remains one of the worlds greatest equalizers. Rich, poor, you're all on board. You're all going someplace (for about $2.25 in Seattle). If the traffic sucks, you're all in the same boat: late. There's no hierarchy. For me, for 30 mins every weekday, everyone on my bus is just a person trying to stay out of everyone's way and ready to help out a person if need be, regardless of who it is. I think this differs from almost any other way of getting to work (especially a car) in that you cannot be a faceless person. We do things in cars because we are faceless to other drives. We judge people based on the make and model of their car on a freeway. Mass transit offers no such avenue. And if you do judge people on your bus... well, aren't you choosing to associate with them by rising it? There are so few places where we're all equal anymore.

Anyhow, it's good to be back on mass transit, with all its trimmings.

1 comment:

kate said...

One of the many things I hate about Houston is the pathetic mass transit. There is exactly one rail line, which goes to within a couple blocks from my work but is a 25 minute walk from our house (which is lucky, because the line is short and inaccessible from most areas), not possible when you start work at 8 and have a kid you need to help get ready for school. And the bus? It would require a transfer and a half mile walk for a trip that takes me less than 10 minutes by car.