Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ode to Transit System

To begin my 100 (ish) days of summer, I thought I would reflect upon public transit as the first part of my journey.

Today, by the way, is day 40 something of summer.  I just finished my first homestand of games.  I loved every second of it, and now I have a week off, in which I decided to come home and spend the holiday with my family.

Anyway, back to the original reason why I was writing this post.  So to get to work I decided that the best way to avoid everything horrendous about Seattle traffic is to take the bus.  I know there's a stigma against taking public transit, but for those that actually know me know that I HATE driving, especially in city traffic.  If I drive somewhere, I'd rather drive out on the open road where I can roll down the windows and let the wind blow through my hair.  There can be something said about me singing loudly in the car as well, but that's beside the point.

So, bus system. I don't normally take the bus anywhere because the transit system is often unpredictable and the "sketchness" of people associated with it is a huge deterrent for me. But, whatever, I'm open to new things, right? I found out that the M's pay for a transit card to get me to and from work, so that's been wonderful because I don't have to worry about parking anywhere, and the bus literally drops me off right where I need to go.  And if I decide I need coffee, I can have the bus drop me off an extra mile away and I can explore in the International district for a little bit and then head to work.  That's assuming that I caught an extra early bus and planned for enough time for me to actually walk down to work from the coffee shop I like.

My experiences with riding the bus have been entertaining, scary, confusing, and often enlightening.  The mix of people that ride the bus really clue into the community of people in the SeaTac area.  People from all walks of life ride these buses, and if you listen carefully, you'll hear the secrets that the bus walls contain from conversations held by people.  One night I was on my way home from a night game, and I was on a very very crowded bus.  Oh, and it was midnight.  Well, most of the riders get off in Tacoma, but I ride all the way down to Lakewood since it's closer to where I live.  I took out my earbuds and realized that there was some kind of drug trade going on behind me.  I caught a whiff of what they were dealing too, and let's just say I became fearful that I could somehow be a witness to what was going on and be used as collateral or whatever. I deduced after that night that I watch too many crime shows and maybe one too many episodes of Breaking Bad.

Other bus rides have been different.  I've met other M's workers, which has been nice.  I had a really pleasant conversation with a dred-locked man on his way up to Seattle.  Sometimes I sit next to other metro workers who will teach me about the area and ask me about my hometown.  My favorite bus ride was when I sat next to a woman from South Africa that didn't understand English.  Somehow I gathered that she was from South Africa, but I didn't really gather that much else.  However, what I learned that day was how to communicate with someone with a very significant language barrier.  There were lots of glances exchanged, hand signs, and even pointing to signs to try to illustrate a point. By the end of our long journey, she held my hand as a form of passing luck and allowed me to pass between her off the bus.  If I ever see this woman again, I know I would love to sit next to her to learn more about her and try to communicate with her. She was a special lady, and her smile was one that could touch anyone's heart.  I wish more people had her spirit and curiosity.  The thing I appreciated most about her was her willingness to be patient, which most people do not have when riding public transit, or at all in life.

A friend of mine recently nicknamed Seattle "Passive Aggress-attle" which is so true.  And the amount of patience people have (as I've noticed the last month) is very small and completely selfish.  It's frustrating.  We can all learn a lesson from the South African woman on the bus.  Kindness, patience, and spirit travel a lot further than frustration, selfishness, and laziness.

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