I had a pleasant ride in to work this morning. Some of you know that I've been commuting to work via Cap Metro. I'm lucky to live near a park & ride that offers a downtown “flyer” (limited stops) bus. I get to work in almost the same amount of time as driving but I save on gas plus the wear on my vehicle. Cap Metro offers a nifty half price card for $5 that gives you $10 worth of rides. The fare on my flyer is 50 cents each way, so I get two weeks of riding for the price of one. They also have a monthly pass with an unlimited number of rides for ten smackers. If I can get away with limited gasoline usage during the week, I may be able to reduce my number of monthly fill ups by half even when I drive around town all weekend.
Riding in from the Oak Hill P&R is different from taking the #5 Woodrow from Frederick’s house. The bus is normally about three-quarters full instead of standing room only, for one. And pretty much everyone has good personal hygiene. I do get to hear the Bitter Bettys yammer on and on about their state jobs, but there are no riders exhibiting any signs of mental illness otherwise. (Why are state workers such a 50/50 lot? Half love their job and the other half love to hate their job or the people they work with, whom they are convinced are trying to steal their job.) So…a quiet ride devoid of homeless folk suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome, schizophrenia or PTSD. In other words, I get to relax and read my current paperback book.
I rode in a few times from Cedar Park last week. You would think that the experience would be the same as from my home, since the cast of characters certainly matched their S. Austin counterparts: professionals, clean and neat and attempting to avoid road rage by riding the City Limo. No lunacy, no craziness, just a quiet ride to work. Not so. These Cedar Parkers need to learn the meaning of personal space. Now, on a bus there isn’t much room for personal space. You hang on to the little bit you’ve got and try not to knock elbows with the person sitting next to you. My last ride in from CP was the ultimate in an invasion of my personal space.
Upon entering the bus and seeing that it was almost empty, I grabbed a window seat. The few remaining passengers got on, and with empty rows of seating everyone was comfy. Until the Woman in the Red Coat boarded. She made a beeline for me, bypassing empty rows and plopped herself down next to me. The bus lurched to a start, giving me no time to extricate myself and move to another row. Red Coat said something like “nice morning” to me, and I mumbled back a reply while opening my book. Red Coat settled in, tucking a newspaper into her tote bag and placing her large leather purse on my lap while she dug through another bag on the floor. On.My.Lap. She put her purse on my lap! I was completely shocked. What to do? I entertained the notion of opening her bag and searching for gum. Or a mint. I had time to consider the weight of her purse. “What is she packing in this thing?” My speechlessness was still upon me when she sat back up and reclaimed her belonging. I didn’t know what to do or say, so I did nothing. I stuck my nose back in my book and ignored Red Coat, who was now sitting so close to me that we were glued together thigh to thigh.
My friends, you know that I am a little furnace. You have heard me say that laying in bed next to me is like having your very own personal space heater. I put out major BTU’s. I don’t know how, I just do. Let me assure you that I sat there, pretending to read, concentrating with all my might on heating up my left leg. I thought about fire, lava, burning coal, campfires, housefires, butane, propane and kerosene. I conjured up volcanos and comets. I was a supernova. By the time Red Coat got off at her state building, my leg was supremely hot and sweaty. As, I’m certain, her’s was too.
During my ride home that day, as I was sitting alone, I thought about Red Coat. She was undoubtedly rude. I wasn’t overtly rude, although I did the best rude but discreet act possible. I’m not sure what the moral implications of my reaction may be, but I know two things now. Do not sit next to the window unless you are the last one boarding the commuter bus. And, if you can turn on the heat, you can learn to turn it off. I’m still working on the last item, but I’ll let you know if there are any huge breakthroughs or if I am offered Drew Barrymore’s role in a 2006 version of Firestarter.
How was your ride in today?