Simply put, my first day alone with public transportation as my only option was… memorable. I don’t think I had realized up until this point how much I had relied on Bear to pick out a seat and pull the string for the right stop, so November 5th marked a day of firsts for me.
I waited for the bus like usual after leaving the gym. It arrived, and as it was pulling up I dug through my gym bag for my purse and dug through my purse for my RTD pass. Oh, by the way, I didn’t need my RTD photo to look good – really, I didn’t. But, if I can just say so, it looks terrible. A mug shot might actually look better than the photo on my RTD pass. Ok, moving on… I hop onto the bus, scan my pass and then look up to find a bus full of people with no opportunity to sit by myself. Before today I hadn’t yet mastered the art of making acquaintances on public transportation, so I felt a little silly having to ask someone to share their seat. Not to mention, the sweat that was dripping off my body at the gym only moments before was now dried into my clothes, giving off a lovely aroma I’m sure. About three rows from the front was a guy who possibly looked my age, so I approached the seat. He took off an ear phone, as I’m sure he knew I was about to ask, so I did:
May I sit here?
Headphones Guy: Sure.
Me: Sorry if I smell. I just left the gym.
T.M.I., Sam – seriously! You probably don’t even smell as bad as you think – or maybe you do. Whatever. So, I sat and opened a book for the remainder of the ride.
Sorry to seem so pathetic, but when you do something for the first time it’s like everyone knows it’s your first time. So, obviously, it felt like all eyes were on me when I went to pull the string for my stop. There was probably not a single soul on the entire bus who even noticed me, but when I went to pull the string, there was – uhmmm – no string. I turned to Headphones Guy to find him sleeping against the window, so I looked around and no one was sitting across the aisle, or anywhere near. (Ok, so maybe I smelled a little…)
What do I do?
So I start looking around quickly for another way to communicate to the driver that I’d like to get off without actually communicating to the driver that I’d like to get off. That’s one way to accomplish nothing, by the way. Moments later, we pass my first stop, and I’m still on the bus. Fortunately, we turned before my next stop because apparently sometimes this bus will make a stop at the local community college. This bought me more time to find the way off of the bus. A few blocks later and we had arrived at the college. Someone requested to stop, and I took the opportunity to hop off at the same time. As I was getting out of my seat, I happened to notice a red button that read “STOP” on the ceiling above me.
But I still decided to hop off at the college and walk for a while. It felt good to walk, honestly. I walked over some train tracks and down to the next major stop. I thought about hopping on, but when I Googled the time it was suppose to arrive, I learned I’d already be at my destination by the time the bus could get me there if I just walked. So, I did.
Google Maps led me down the main road for a half mile or so, and then had me turn down a less familiar side road. Since I’m a little newer to life on foot, I thought an adventure was necessary. So, down that little side road I went…
Except not really…
As the sun began to set, I passed a run-down trailer park followed by a run-down industrial area with some railroad tracks nearby. I walked on a bridge over a dirty area of water and down a dirt trail surrounded by a field with tall grass. Soon I was back on another creepy road with small businesses to my side; they looked like they may have been junk yards for car parts and random things. (All of this recommended by good old Google Maps, yes.) Perfect, I thought. This is the perfect time for someone to grab me and force me into some sort of underground shipping container – some eerie place like the one in The Lovely Bones. It would be conveniently positioned close to the tracks so that no one could hear my scream, or better yet – maybe someone would just kill me in advance and hide my remains in one of these junked refrigerators. I sent a text to Brownie, one of my closest friends, to tell her what intersection I was at – just in case. I sent her a couple texts, and intentionally did not tell Bear where I was at. I knew he’d be way more freaked out than necessary, and quite frankly, Brownie seemed to entertain my irrational fears in a way we both found humorous which made it fun. After a couple more blocks I started feeling comfortable. This was what I signed up for: what life is like for the huge portion of the people in our community that I would have never experienced had I not started taking public transportation.
This is life now for me now too, and I’m embracing it – even if it means walking through an area that makes me feel the need to jot down a final goodbye to my parents. It’s good to be alert, but it’s not good to be in fear. I almost feel kind of stupid admitting these fears to the public because some of you may have been doing this for years. But the truth is, I have never relied this heavily on my feet to take me from place to place, or on my mind to get me through unexpected experiences. This is something new for me, and we were all new at something once.. Right?