The Wonders of Public Transportation

Ever heard of that saying, cutting out the middle man? That’s kind of how I feel about cars. I mean, sure they’re super convenient and can take you anywhere you want to go…but I guess in a sense it always feels like they cut out everything that could happen in the middle.

It turns the story into just point A to point B. And I mean…that’s not bad if you’re in a rush. It’s just sometimes it feels like everyone in the whole world is in a rush and everyone is just “too busy.”

Paperman ©2012 Walt Disney Animation Studios
Paperman ©2012 Walt Disney Animation Studios

Now, I have always preferred to take public transport (except for when Boston shuts it all down because it’s snowing). Not because I like standing in the cold…or because I like waiting for someone else but because I like all of the things I get to see (there’s also the whole avoiding gas prices, not worrying about hitting someone or something, helping the environment by carpooling essentially).

While I’m riding the bus or on the subway or the train I think of all the things I’ve seen that I wouldn’t have. I think of all the different things I’ve seen in that hour it took me from my hometown to the city, how many stories I saw unfold. How many unique people I’ve seen. How many I wouldn’t have seen had I been simply driving in a car.

Sometimes you’ll see an act of kindness. The other day actually, I saw an older woman give a homeless man a dollar so he could get on the bus. Then he helped her make it up the steps with her walker in return. She told him about her grandkids. And he listened. I wouldn’t have seen that.

Then I saw a young woman with big gold hoop earrings and a ponytail talking to an old man she had just met, as if he were her father. Initially you might think, this is one of those pretty girls who doesn’t have the time for chatting. But there she was talking to this man and the old couple beside them about the difference between Ms, Miss, and Mrs. They were all very confused. I wouldn’t have overheard that.

This woman on one side of the bus was having a hard time seeing her phone and the lady beside her told her that she could adjust the brightness on it. She wasn’t sure how and then the other ladies little girl offered to help. “May I?” she asked and the woman handed her the phone. She fixed it in less than 20 seconds. The two women had a conversation about how tech savvy kids are nowadays. I wouldn’t have seen that.

Last week I saw a dad riding the bus with his son and daughter, probably ten and six. It was really cold and the two were bundled up in jackets and nuzzled under his arms. It was a different thing to see because he didn’t really look like what you think a father would be. He had baggy, ripped jeans and tattoos across his knuckles and neck. But there he was with a little chubby boy with huge glasses and a tiny girl coated in pink Disney princesses. She kept staring at me with her big brown eyes. I wouldn’t have seen them.

Then there are the times someone is trying to think of a word or a name or a thing. And I know the answer. Like when the girl was trying to find the word for someone addicted to setting fires. “Pyromaniac!” I shouted. I wouldn’t have gotten to say that.

There are those people who play pretty music in the tunnels and on the platforms as the subway cars come and go. You would miss the opportunity to hear them play their rendition of your favorite song from The Beatles. You would miss the lady with the voice like an angel, the guy who can strum and otherworldly experience out of his guitar or that instrument you’ve never heard from some country you’ve never been to. You wouldn’t have listened to that.

There are so many different people in this world. So many pretty and unique and diverse and interesting people and mothers and children and grandparents with so many thoughts and stories. All of which I would have missed if I were in a car. I wouldn’t have these stories to tell.

And then there are those times, when you see the most beautiful person in the world ten seats down from you, or across the platform…or even right beside you.

Paperman ©2012 Walt Disney Animation Studios
Paperman ©2012 Walt Disney Animation Studios

You would have missed the opportunity to ask them about their day or compliment their shirt. Or look into their eyes for just a moment longer if you can’t gather up the courage to get their number. You got to see someone you might not have seen had you not been waiting for the train.

Then there are those times they sit beside you. Because they like you too.

Until next time!

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