Monday morning I took the #7 Mainline from our home near Rockway Gardens in Kitchener to Waterloo Town Square, a bus ride of 20 minutes or so.
I lost my driver’s license last December due to brain lesions, and have depended on my dear husband and occasionally other friends for transportation since that time. But in good weather this summer, I’ve taken the bus to one or another of the many coffee shops in uptown Waterloo to meet friends.
On the bus, I sink into the reality of our multi-cultural twin cities with pleasure. I observe parents with babies in strollers, older women with shopping carts or walkers, teenagers with ear buds, and people who look to be homeless transporting their possessions. A cell phone occupies nearly everyone.
If anything I’m surprised by the politeness and consideration of most riders. Many say “thank you” when exiting the bus.
One day I’m standing on a full bus when I notice a physically challenged teenager communicating by signs with her mother. Soon the mother stands up and tells me that her daughter wants me to take the mother’s seat. I don’t feel at all decrepit that day, so I protest that I’m just fine standing, thank you! But the daughter insists that I sit down! So I do. It’s a humbling experience; I’m overwhelmed by the girl’s kindness….
Riding the bus fosters in me a sense of independence. After coffee one day, I take the time to try on necklaces at Ten Thousand Villages, then browse at Wordsworth Books and buy an old P.D. James mystery. Before heading home, I buy flowers in the Valu-mart at Waterloo Town Square.
This is the kind of leisurely shopping I enjoy! But when my husband is waiting (usually patiently) in the car, I rush through my shopping and thus it’s not very enjoyable.
We do have a good system for buying our weekly groceries, however. On busy Saturdays we split the list; recently we were in and out of the Stanley Park Zehrs Market in less than half an hour….
Perhaps when Light Rail Transit (LRT) finally begins operating in Kitchener-Waterloo, many more people with a driver’s license will abandon their cars for crosstown trips. In the meantime, the loss of my driver’s license can symbolize for me diminishment, a loss of independence, and perhaps even a changed identity. But my joy in riding the bus also symbolizes the gains of a new way of living.
Kate Bowler, a prof. at Duke Divinity School who is also living with cancer, puts it like this in a recent podcast:
“Maybe you can, I don’t know, learn to settle into a different kind of present, where you’re alert and grateful for what you have, as opposed to always being hungry for something else” (from the podcast “Not all pain has to be explained,” Faith and Leadership, February 6, 2018).
Some days I’m almost there….
Questions for Reflection:
- What have you learned about your community or your region by taking public transportation?
- What, if anything, has helped (or forced) you to “settle into a different kind of present?”
Next week: TBA