So I have taken to riding the bus. Public transportation. It has been about 3 months now and I have met the best people and some of the worst. I often look back on a bus trip or on getting to and from the bus and wonder why I am not dead in the desert but here I still am. A good thing, indeed.
It’s easy once you get the hang of it. At first, I was lost, then I learned how and it was a piece of cake. The buses come and go pretty much on schedule, the ones I ride are rarely crowded.
It’s the people who change from day to day and from day to night. Such a diverse group at any given time, from professionals to drunks, (not that they are mutually exclusive) the people you meet on the bus depend on the time you get on the bus and whereabouts you go. In the early mornings, it seems safe, mostly people getting to and from work. In the dark of night, more sinister as the people may be a little more dark, just like the night outside.
At first, I spoke to anyone who spoke to me. I met lots of interesting people and was interested in their stories. Some people on the bus like to talk a lot, just like any other place you go in life really. They seemed a bit more colorful to me though, usually there is a story to why they ride the bus to begin with.
Some mornings I look at the traffic as I walk to my stop, and it occurs to me all these cars have people in them who leave their residences in the mornings and are wrapped in the cocoon of their automobiles, with their coffee and the radio or other music, and never see the reality of what goes on beyond their world.
The homeless, the hungry, the criminal, the entirety of life beyond their safe little bubble. That’s how I was when I drove my car everywhere. Now to me, as I watch the traffic and the people who are clueless, it seems ridiculous to be so caught up in such materialistic things as cars. Especially as some kind of status symbol.
I feel a greater kinship with the human race now that I am truly amongst the humans in it. Part of the bigger picture, if you will, which I never saw before. It’s an odd experience and an interesting shift of perspective.
I have met the best people, the ones who have their shit together and ride the bus to get where they are going, yet don’t ignore what is going on around them, and the worst of people. Ones who lash out at others and take advantage of kindness because they hate their life situation. The ones trying for a better life, the ones who have given up and don’t know where to turn.
Often I am approached for money, or cigarettes even if there is no visible sign I smoke. Sometimes people just want to talk and I usually listen. If I have it I will give it. I’ve given my last dollar and my last cigarette, even food I just bought at McDonald’s before getting on the bus, something I actually have learned to reserve for the ones who really look like, or convince me they need it. I have learned if I give everything to everybody, I must do without. It’s never ending, and sometimes I like to keep my money and smokes and food.
I try to be the best person, even when I meet the worst. Try not to lose my belief in people as a whole even after a bad situation. I have had a few. Once, a crippled man in a wheel chair tried to steal out of my back pack after I already gave to him all I could give that morning. A guy followed me off the light rail, intent on walking me home. I ditched him at a bar after telling the bartender and bouncers he was bothering me and once some chick got out of her car and hit me over the head with a bat or stick or something. It hurt.
All the bad things hurt.
But then there are the times I feel maybe I made a difference. The homeless lady in Tempe whom I said hi to and proceeded to have a conversation with. I tried to give her a little money and some cigarettes before I left to catch my bus. She wasn’t having any of it, simply said thank you for talking to her like a real human being and being interested in what she had to say.
That is humbling. To think there are people out there so in need of material things yet are satisfied with mere attention and conversation.
People whom I never would have met or had a chance to be kind to or give them anything, had I not taken to riding the bus. People that are invisible to the people wrapped in the cocoon of their cars.
Life is not black or white. It comes in so many shades in between. Changing perspective can lead to seeing something we never knew existed. It’s just a thought.
I try to stick by the golden rule, do unto others as I would have done to me.
It typically gets me through the best and worst.