That means for the time being, it looks like sometimes I'm going to have to ride the bus.
To some people, either those who live in relatively rural areas where there is no city transit or in a foreign country, where public transportation is so clean, efficient and ultra-modern that it simply doesn't make sense to own a car, that isn't going to seem like a big deal. Everybody else's skin is crawling right now. That's because there's a stigma to riding the bus. There shouldn't be; it's a public utility, meant to be used by taxpayers like myself. And I don't have any qualms about using city water or other amenities. But there's something about riding the bus that people find off-putting. If this applies to you, let me just assure you that many of your fears and trepidations are completely unfounded. Others, however, are spot on.
My first extended trip out and about on the bus system was Saturday, when I needed to fetch some dry cleaning. That's right, my first Saturday since July and a large chunk of it was devoted to retrieving clothes I need for work. I'm not sure if that's ironic or just shitty.
|Oh, by all that is holy, just shut up.|
THE SCHEDULE - Trying to decipher a public transportation system is like learning a new language. When you begin, there's a bunch of numbers and symbols that don't seem to mean anything and even if you think you have it somewhat figured out on paper, there's no telling for sure until you put it to practical use. For instance, upon my first glance at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART) schedule, it might as well have been a handicapping form for ostrich racing.
|Can somebody just tell me what time I'm gonna get home, please?|
|These bead-tossing poofs would soil their silken pantaloons if they ever had to ride the bus|
"You can not work that corner drunk because the median is too steep. You will fall off and you will be run over by a car. Hell, you run the risk of rolling an ankle stone-cold sober."
"Oscar did it drunk. He was wasted."
"Yeah, well, Oscar is always wasted."
It was not unlike listening to surfers discuss beaches in Hawaii.
THE RIDE - One of the things HART likes to play up in their attempts to market their services to potential riders is the lack of stress and it's true. There is no Road Rage when you're riding the bus. More like Road Sullen Resignation. Everybody just sits there and stares out their window with a look on their face that tells you they'd almost certainly rather be going somewhere other than where they're going to wind up. I guess circumstances beyond one's control is the #1 cause of how riders find themselves on buses. But the seats were comfortable, it was clean and the air conditioning worked like a champion. Plus there's an unusual, sweet-smell aroma that's unique to buses that I kind of like. I can't describe it beyond that and I know that sounds weird. I don't know if it's a deodorizing agent designed specifically for buses or the slow leak of potentially toxic exhaust fumes. Probably the second one.
|No smoking, no food or beverages and no Etch-A-Sketches|
|"Not so funny now is it, comedy boy?"|
- Weather would be a major concern, as many of the bus stops are not covered and there's considerable walking distance between most stops and actual destinations.
- It's definitely not the fastest mode of transportation; I left my apartment at 3:30PM and returned with my dry cleaning, approximately a nine mile round trip, after 6. Granted, I admittedly left earlier than I needed to, but still.
- It's not a very effective for running errands. I had thought about stopping at the grocery store after the cleaners but just dragging the shirts around was a pain (in spite of the respect I'm sure I got from the other passengers after getting on with them; "oh look at him, he's employed in a field that requires the wearing of a shirt!"). I couldn't even visualize lugging my dry cleaning around a grocery store with me, let alone climbing back on the bus with it plus a couple of bags of food so I scrapped that plan. And yes, that means aside from one bagel and a half can of spray cheese, I have zero food in my apartment right now.
|"So just to be clear; you DO have a car, right?"|