#68 – Musings on Riding the City Bus

Bus-stopMonday 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….

Waterloo Town Square

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….

Testing the LRT near Waterloo Town Square

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:

  1. What have you learned about your community or your region by taking public transportation?
  2. What, if anything, has helped (or forced) you to “settle into a different kind of present?”


Next week: TBA

4 thoughts on “#68 – Musings on Riding the City Bus

  1. Your blog today makes me nostalgic for the years of riding the TTC while we lived in Toronto. I still enjoy taking the subway, bus or streetcar whenever I get the chance, which I do when I take the bus into the city to visit my friends. I love the way you capture the sights and encounters along the way.
    Dave had a similar experience when he lost his license for several years and had to take the bus to work at Grebel. And where we live are others for whom age or health has meant taking public transit.
    Choosing to take public transit voluntarily will take more commitment on people’s part, so thanks for reminding us that there are also pleasures and gains.

    Muriel Bechtel
    515 Langs Dr., Unit J,
    Cambridge, ON
    N3H 5E4
    Home telephone: 519-219-3344
    Cellphone: 226-338-6915

    Every sunrise brings the promise of a new beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed your account of riding the bus and observations along the way. So much to observe and think about. Hooray for public transportation, as well as friends to meet for coffee!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Sue,

    I continue to enjoy your inspiring blogs. Today’s, regarding riding the bus, pricks my conscience a bit. I hardly ever use public transit, but I suspect the day will come when I will – and I should do so more often now. I ease my guilt by musing that my little car consumes very little gas and harmful emissions are minimal!

    I am surprised how often your musings do connect with me. One example: your drive to the Mount Forest/Conn area awhile back. My parents and brother’s family moved to a farm with the Saugeen River flowing through it a short distance from Conn near Cedarville in 1956. That move came as a result of the construction of the Hwy 7&8 bypass around New Hamburg which sliced through the farm where my Cressman family lived for generations. (Yes, I drove a tractor – and horses – in the field where the Newburg Inn now sits!) It was a huge shift for my parents but what at first blush seemed dismal turned out to be a good move, especially for them. Dad was a deacon at Geigers (now Wilmot) Mennonite, much under the control of Bishop M.H. Roth and my mother as the deacon’s wife lived under severe restrictions. After the move, she became a community participant in ways not open to her before, joined the Women’s Institute and became a mentor to numerous young women (obviously non-Mennonite) in the community. And she began putting pen to paper, crafting reflective pieces and human interest stories from her experience, several of which were published in Purpose magazine – all around the age of 80!

    Sorry I missed noting your wedding anniversary yesterday. Nancy and grandson Jeff from Goshen, granddaughter Kathryn from Sydney and daughter Lorrie came by for a visit. That’s my excuse. I hope you had a very special day with tons of wonderful memories to recapture.

    By the way, I just learned yesterday that Glenn and Anna Mary Brubacher will be our new neighbours in unit # 803! Maybe the Mennonites are taking over once again. And how many are retired pastors? Grace Weber, whose unit we purchased, would be pleased.




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