I have always loathed the idea of riding the bus. It’s probably due to my white middle class upbringing in South Jersey where getting a car at age 17 was a birthright, and taking the school bus was always more stressful than it needed to be.
As much as I love my car, I don’t love the idea of spending up to $25 a day to have it sit in a parking lot for 5-6 hours. What a fucking waste of money. I’ve already spent more in the past month on deposits, registration, and moving expenses, so perhaps it was time I faced my fear of public transportation, if only to put a little more green in my pocket.
I started my new job yesterday in downtown Seattle. I won’t say where I work because of the social media policy I had to sign stating that any form of blog or post I make on any website may only include the name of my workplace if I followed it with the sentence “The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent that of (insert bar name here.)
Regardless, after I took a look at the parking situation downtown, I figured out it would cost me about $100 a week to park my car if I work four shifts. Unless I’m making a thousand dollars a day, the cost of parking my car in the city flat out sucks. After a few intuitive questions to my HR rep about where to park, she informed me my company will reimburse up to $45 a month for bus fare. After hearing that, I’d be an idiot NOT to take advantage of the public transit system. I had no choice but to put my past fears and nightmares aside, and let someone else do the driving.
The first time I took a bus was when I was in summer camp in the 80s, and I threw up into my baseball hat on the way home because I got nauseated from sitting in the seat over the back wheels. Eight years went by before I got on a six wheeled vehicle again.
The next time I took a bus was 7th grade. It was my first day of school, and not being keen to the schedule, I missed my bus and had to have my Mom drive me in, but not before I got the bright idea to cut across a dew dampened field of leg high grass to try and catch the bus at another stop.
It was no surprise I also missed THAT bus along with soaking my jeans all the way up to my knees from running through someone’s backyard. However, I spent the next few years taking the bus to school with my Walkman on at all times, trying my hardest to sit in the back or the front as not to get all pukey again from sitting over the wheel. By the time I was 15, someone was picking me up and driving me to school everyday and I wouldn’t have to take any bus anywhere until sometime in the year 2007 in L.A. when taking the bus was forced upon me.
That’s when I found myself trapped at a shady motel at six in the morning somewhere south of La Brea and Venice boulevard, while my car was parked at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Hollywood three miles away. I had just been ripped off for sixty bucks by some wise ass kid, I had no money in my bank account, and I had to bum a dollar from some prostitute just to get on any form of public transportation to take me back home. I’m leaving out a lot from that story, but trust me, I’ve included the basic facts and that’s all you need to know.
I know this may seem like I’m spoiled, but I always thought of taking the bus as the lowest form of transportation. In my mind, the hierarchy of getting from point A to point B goes like this:
1. Driving myself in my own car
2. Riding in someone else’s car
3. Taking a cab/uber, which could also be #2 if I didn’t pay for it.
4. Taking the subway
and finally, all the way down there at number 6: Taking the bus
I knew in the back of my mind I was turned off by the whole idea since I was a kid. I guess I was traumatized by my past experiences coupled with the fear that something bad was going to happen as most bus rides are portrayed negatively on TV and in the movies. Maybe I could chalk that up to the fact that I was raised Catholic and taught to fear everything in life, but being a pragmatic adult now means sometimes I have to break myself of what I always have done to make room for something that is more sensible.
It’s not practical to spend almost two hours of my hard earned hourly wages on a holding spot for a hunk of metal and rubber in some parking lot, when taking the bus cost me a fraction of that amount, not to mention the fact that I have a $45 buffer I will get back. So, I did the inevitable, I manned up, stopped being a pussy, and I took the bus to work yesterday.
I walked two blocks to Aurora and 95th to catch the RapidRide to downtown. I pressed my ORCA card to the screen at the bus stop, and it made a happy sounding noise. When the bus came I got on. I thought I was going to get lost, or harassed, or mugged, but as it turns out, no one cares because everyone is looking at their phone anyway.
Truth be told, it was quite a laid back process. I even enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to look for a parking spot, or slam on my breaks because some idiot cut me off, usually that idiot by the way is a bus driver. It was an all together painless process, and in fact, I didn’t even drive my car yesterday, and I’m totally ok with that.
I think I might have been too hard on public transportation my whole life, and I apologize to it. I know I may have looked down upon the idea of getting around using the metro system, and I’m sorry for judging any person who has been taking the bus their whole life. It’s not like I thought I was better than you, I just have had a few bad experiences and have owned a car since I was 17. I’ve been driving myself everywhere since then. I guess you could say old habits die hard.
So for what it’s worth, I can now look at riding the bus as a practical means of getting from point A to point B, and not so much as a symbol of my status in this world. After all, I didn’t get sick, I wasn’t late, and I didn’t get attacked by some weirdo at the bus stop. (yet)
I still love my car, but I think I love the idea of having money in my pocket and reducing my stress level enough to allow someone else to do the driving from here on out. I guess I had to face my fears head on, and I’m proud to say I took the bus to work yesterday, and nothing bad happened.