Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Public Transportation and the Suthunah

It comes as no surprise to any one who has read this blog that I ride the bus to work every day. Like Dagwood Bumstead I walk to the bus stop (about a mile and a quarter for me) and hope to get there before it pulls away (mainly because I'm not about to be chasing down some bus in the middle of oh-dark-thirty!) Those buses that Dagwood took every day are not in the South. Here, if the driver sees me hot-footin' it trying to catch the bus, they wait. Amazing - and quite Suthun.

In movies and TV and yes, even the news, riding public transportation in places such as New York City you basically take your life in your hands each and every day. Muggings, Vandals, creepers and surly dead-beat-ne'er-do-wells of all kinds seem to consider this their private entertainment area. In the South, this is totally different.

Now, don't get me wrong, there have been some truly 'nawthen' moments on our bus in the years I've been riding. Usually just homeless types who haven't had a shower, or the occasional surly construction worker who's just looking to take a bad day out on someone. These are the exceptions and are far and few between.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things I've experienced.

Early in my bus riding experience, I had a couple of long days. Couple that with the gentle sway of the bus and soon I was dozing. No one stole anything of mine. No one attacked me, and in fact, one of the other regular riders woke me in time for my stop. I thought this was a fluke, but yet, another time again I fell asleep and this time the bus driver herself knew my stop and pulled over and gently woke me. It's an amazing dynamic I've found no where else.

Most importantly is this camaraderie that the regular riders share. We tell stories of our weekends, share book titles, pass photos around, discuss local news and yeah, joke around a lot. I had to take a day off once and the next day one of the other riders told me that she missed her stop because she was so used to getting off when I did. Since I wasn't there, she forgot to get off the bus at her stop downtown!

I've ridden buses in Los Angeles (The City of Angles) on a regular basis and rode buses in my native Colorado and I've compared these with my experiences here in the south.

There. Is. NO. Comparison.

Here in the south, riding the bus is not public transportation, it's riding to work in a big carpool. Even the driver will joke around with you and is part of the group. When they are transferred to another route, we bring donuts and have a good-bye party. It's one of those things like a free gift with purchase. It's not expected, and not really noticed if it's not there at all, but really appreciated when it is.

I'll be on the bus again tomorrow. Hope to see you there!

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