Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I’ve been keeping up with my goal to ride the bus a couple times a week and am enjoying that little bit of down time with a book as we rumble through the city, stopping to pick up and drop off my fellow passengers. It’s a different view of the world than the one I get from behind the wheel of my car.

I've noticed the pretty purple clematis, growing up the gate on a house a block from my house. The new fence built at the house where previously lived tweekers who destroyed a piano with axes and hammers. That house looks cute and inhabitable again, by the way. Lots of smokers, sucking in that first wonderous dose of nicotine for the day, huddled on their porches because no one wants that smell in their house. I have a chance to say “good morning” to the groundskeeper raising the flags at City Hall and to a kid sitting on the steps of the Employment Office.

Hurry up and wait, that’s me. No matter how much leeway I give myself, I always walk briskly, petrified I’ll see the bus drive past just as I approach Fourth Street. Once I get to my stop, I wait and read and pace, occasionally glancing up to check traffic for my bus to round the corner a few blocks up. Once it arrives, I climb aboard and run my pass through the box. Man I miss the chink sound of the token hitting the bottom of the toll box on the Santa Cruz bus I rode with my mom as a child. I make my way back to an empty seat. Most everyone sits alone -- personal space issues? A girl in a hoodie is curled up on the seat like a child, catching a nap on the way to CR. Other’s rest their heads and eyes, ignoring the passing traffic. Many, like me, wear headphones. Are they really listening to music or just putting on the appearance so as not to be bothered? Someone around me smells a little stinky. There's a mystery I'd rather NOT solve -- I know it’s not me and that’s good enough. A few people load their bicycles on the bus’ rack so they don’t have to walk from their stop – a great alternative if the only stop is a ways from your job. The directions on the RTA website for loading your bike look pretty simple. I presume you’ll get help if you have difficulty. Will more than one bike fit? Yes but if the racks are full, you can bring your bike on board.
I tend towards motion sickness but manage to read and ride until we approach that off ramp to CR. I figure that, if I enjoy a stretch of road in my car, I will NOT enjoy reading while the bus negotiates the bend. That’s about the time I tuck away my book and enjoy view of the ebbed tide at that part of the bay. Mudflats and birds seeking food. The cows across from the college. The driver drops some of us at the security office near the south entrance and I make the trek up to my office...my second walk for the morning makes for a nice start to my day, even if I DO come skidding in exactly on time.

I take a shortened lunch to allow for leaving early to make the 4:21 bus home….4:21? What kind of launch time is that? Better than 5:07! No matter, I have a longer walk down to the bus shelter below the Forum so that is generally a brisk walk to be sure I make it but the ride home is far more relaxing than the normal commute home. Another walk from the stop on Fifth to my house and I’m home by 5:00, pretty much the normal commute time but without the frustration.


Kym said...

I realized reading your post after reading Jen's yesterday how much I've come to depend on the sweet quiet of how other people's search for serenity helps me with mine.

Your whole essay was lovely.

Mary said...

I'm so happy you're riding the bus and enjoying it. We only have one car, I work for everybodyBIKE (www.everybodyBIKE.com), so it's really exciting for me to see people make a change in their commuting habits.
I ride my bike and take the bus to work 99.9% of the time. Our transit system is awesome, they've done a lot to improve service and routes, which is really nice, given the gas prices.
Although the occasional stinky people do make the ride a bit less enjoyable.

beachcomber said...

Thanks Kym. Remember the old Greyhouse ads that said "leave the driving to us"? It's really rather nice to just relax, especially after work.

Mary, I'm still slowly getting my "riding legs" back on the bike but am looking forward to tough enough buns to take my bike on the bus to neighboring towns to peddle around. Luckily it's been warm enough to have the windows open on the bus...helps with the lingering "stinky".