What I learned from riding the bus
It was 7:20 PM and I was hoping to get picked up at 7:00. Here comes my driver. According to the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), he was on time. They have 30-minute leeway. Fair enough.
He asked me if I was Brian. Then I asked for his name. It was Tom (name changed to protect the innocent). There was no funny stuff involved with this conversation.
I found my seat and started to put in my headphones. Then I asked if we could take the interstate home. That would help us get there a little quicker and we wouldn’t have so many starts and stops.
Tom wasn’t having any of that. He’s been instructed not to take directions from passengers.
Eleven months ago, I suffered another brain bleed. As you may remember, the first of the really bad bleeds caused me to lose my eyesight. A portion of it has returned. This latest brain bleed caused additional damage to my vision. Additionally, my entire right side is constantly numb and I slur my words.
Now, I’ve been forced to give up driving. That’s why I take the bus.
It’s humbling to give up the car keys and have family and friends drive you wherever you need to go. It drains the goodwill from those you love. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voice. But, there aren’t many options. When you’re faced with a harsh reality, with only one option, the decision is easier. It can still be humiliating, but you look at it from another perspective. It becomes less about you and more about them.
The good news is that there’s is always something to learn. Riding the bus has taught me plenty. The purpose of these blog posts is to share some of them with you.
My first lesson was to follow the rules.
The reason Tom isn’t supposed to take directions from riders is that some riders may be mentally disabled. In their minds, they are only going where they want to go. However, that’s not where the bus for the disabled is supposed to take them. I’ll try better.
On the way home, I told Tom where to get off the interstate. After he exited I said, “do you have it from here.” Meaning, did he know how to take me the remainder of the way without me giving directions. He snapped back, “I’ve had it all along. I know where I’m going.” At this point, I decided that I better be quiet. His next move, put him in the left-hand lane, which would take him into a neighboring city. The right lane would have been the right lane to take me home.
I was so frustrated, I couldn’t hold it in. “Where are you going?! I don’t live that way. I live off to the right. I thought you had this?”
Oops! I’ve said too much, but I was getting hungry and just wanted to get home.
He said, “that’s where the GPS is telling me to go. You must be over there.” “I don’t live that way! I know where I live!” At this point, he made an illegal right turn in front of another lane of traffic. “What are you doing now?” “I’m going your way”, he barked. I felt like I needed to say something. “What’s your employee ID number?” I asked.
Silence. He never answered.
I couldn’t believe how the situation had escalated. This was one of the most eventful bus trips, but they’ve all been notable.
Here’s more of what I learned during the past few weeks of riding the bus.
- You don’t always get to choose your seat
- Sometimes there are others ahead of you
- How to be patient
- Always wear your mask
- Don’t ask too many questions
- Always have the correct change
- Stop at the railroad crossing
- You don’t get to stop for doughnuts
- Be on time
- Be aware of the time, but don’t get stuck on it
I’ll tell you more about them later.
Well before 8:00 PM, that night, I was home at the dinner table. I was where I needed to be. I was safe. This is what I should expect and quit trying to change the system. Yeah, right!
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