I invariably bike to work. I ride our local bus probably less than once annually. This despite the fact my employer gives me a free annual bus pass that lets me ride anywhere TriMet [our transportation agency that runs regional buses, light rail, and a commuter train] goes. It's a nice perk for many, but not for my situation.
In different circumstances--my employer not within bikeable distance, or exorbitant parking charges at that distance--I might find mass transit--the bus--advantageous.
But as it is, I use the bus rarely, when biking doesn't make sense. But recently I did. Two days of snow and freezing rain gave me two work "snow days" in a row. The day I returned to work--with snow and ice about--biking would have been drawn-out and not particularly safe.
I took the bus and walking from the bus stop to my job was still treacherous with ice. Temperatures were still below freezing.
When it was time to go home, I got to the bus stop fifteen minutes early. The scheduled arrival time came and went. It hurt to stand facing the wind, looking for the bus to the east because the wind-chill factor was easily in the low 20s.
Another fifteen minutes went by and I called TriMet on my cell phone. The real-time update said the bus would be there in another fifteen minutes.
I didn't understand: The bus line runs twice an hour and I was to wait 45 minutes to see the first bus! The bus was more than thirty minutes late, one run seemed missing.
My frozen self took it personally. I went back to work, warmed up, and cabbed home.
Okay, I made an impulsive decision: No more TriMet bus rides for me, even if free.
At home, in the warmth of my home, I reconsidered. I decided TriMet deserved some slack. After all, the morning bus I rode still had chains on, mostly for the prior days' ice and snow. Those had to be removed. Taking chains off bus tires is not a five-minute job. No, taking chains off a fleet of buses means some normal bus runs get dropped!
The bus I'd been waiting for was a victim of all those chain removals backing things up.
Plus, I decided I was really being a bit classist.
What if it were an airline? [United excepted, but that's another story.] We forgive airline delays for weather, equipment problems, you name it. Airlines have a halo from many well-heeled travellers. Not so buses. Buses are for the poor, buses are for people who can't afford a car ... In other words, my objections to the bus had a distinct classist prejudice. A character flaw I'm working to overcome.
Image credit: google images: portlandoregon.gov
Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.
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