While things are gradually returning to normal, or at least a new normal, there’s still no clear word on when I’ll return to my old office. The place where I work is still under semi-lockdown which makes sense: it’s near a hospital and the higher-ups prefer to err on the side of caution. The other day my wife, who’s arranged to work from home permanently, and I were discussing what we’d do when I do finally go back.
“Maybe we can just skip paying for a parking pass,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind driving you to the bus stop. And then on days when I’m not working you can get a day pass.”
That she offered to drive me to the bus stop surprised me at first but then I started thinking about it. We both get up at the same time every morning because of the canine alarm so it’s not as though she’d get any extra sleep if I drove to work, and, as short as it may be, the drive to the bus stop would be a chance to spend a little more time together before starting the work day.
And I thought about all the benefits of riding the bus. I get to sit back and relax, I don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot, I get some exercise walking to and from the bus stop. In a small way me riding the bus benefits other people too.
Back in the pre-pandemic times whenever I’d drive to work I’d pass by people standing at bus stops. Some of them I even recognized. I’d frequently see a guy I knew from the bus. We never talked but I remembered him because he’d sometimes ask the driver to pull up about fifty feet so he could get off at the entrance to his apartment building. Why there was a stop fifty feet from the entrance to an apartment building and not, you know, right in front of it, is a mystery to me, but the bus drivers were always willing to go the extra distance.
When I’d see him, or others, I’d always think about pulling over and offering to give them a ride. There are a lot of reasons I never did. For one thing if there was heavy traffic there was no way I could safely pull over—I’m not driving a bus—and anyway by the time I recognized anyone or even saw someone at a bus stop I was already going by. For another thing I don’t know if anyone waiting for a bus would accept a ride from a complete stranger. I’ve had strangers offer to give me a ride. The only time I ever took one up on it was when I was chasing a bus I’d just missed and a guy pulled over and offered to drive me to the next stop so I could catch it. I’ve forgotten his name now but I’ll always be grateful to him for that.
To get back to my point, though, the reason public transportation exists is because people use it. Nashville’s public transportation isn’t great but as long as people use it we can hopefully prevent it from getting any worse. Maybe we can, collectively, make it better—although that would be more likely if more people rode the bus. I’m just one rider so, as I said, my contribution will be small, but at least I’ll be contributing to the continuing bus service, and that will benefit other people.
This doesn’t have anything to do with Memorial Day so here’s something that does.