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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Public Transit... and being thankful

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 at 4:48pm I was in an automobile accident.
Someone two cars in front of me stopped dead in the middle of the road - apparently to let someone on a side street out. How nice of them you might be saying - that would be so if the place they decided to stop hadn't been in the middle of a very busy 4 lane rd with NO stop lights or stop signs anywhere near by. The truck in front of me tried to stop and hit the car who'd stopped in the middle of the street.

I was about 2 - 2 1/2 car lengths behind the truck and thought I had plenty of time and room to stop. That might have been the case, except as soon as I touched the peddle my brakes locked up and I slid into the truck that had hit the car in front of him. My airbag deployed and my seat belt, thankfully locked so quickly and so tightly that my back never left the seat. I have wonderful multicolored bruises from my collarbone all the way to my heel, but I am in one piece and I am alive -- and thankful! That little recap was to get to the subject at hand.

The Public Transit System - in Mobile, AL also known as "The Wave". I've never been in an auto accident before - in all my 16yrs of driving. I've had a little fender bender or two but never anything serious. It's because of this safe driving history that I never thought I'd need rental reimbursement and opted not to have that coverage on my insurance policy when I bought my new car. Silly me. So I, much like the average person I imagine, just didn't have the extra cash sitting in the bank to cover a rental car for two weeks while my car is being repaired. (Think upwards of $400 for a compact!!) I wracked my brain trying to think of an alternative way to work for two weeks. I live about 8 miles from my office, which doesn't seem that far... if you're a trained marathon runner! So I hopped online, did some searching and discovered The Wave. I've seen the buses periodically since I moved to Mobile in May, but never really thought much about them. Needless to say I started thinking lol.

I have to say I was nervous.. what if there isn't a route that goes by my house? What if there isn't one that goes anywhere near my work?!? Well as the case usually is, it's the times when you worry most about something that it ends up you needn't have worried at all. Turns out there is a stop one block from the intersection near my apartments. So it's about a block and a half walk. Then there is a connecting bus at the mall here that takes me to the corner of the nearest intersection where my office is. That stop requires a bit more walking but nothing impossible. It's about a half mile, maybe less or maybe more lol but it only took me 5 mins this morning to get from the corner where the bus dropped me off to my office. Those 5 minutes wouldn't have even been as bad as they were if it hadn't been so dang COLD!

So now I'll get to the thankful part. I get to the bus stop this morning, terrified I'd missed the bus, or worse yet it wouldn't' come at all. (I'd heard many a story about how unpredictable the local transit is here, evidently the people telling me how unreliable it is have never ridden it). Within a few minutes 2 ladies joined me, then a young man. The ladies were polite and conversational. So we board the bus and SWEET JESUS the driver drove like a maniac!!! I thought for sure we were going to flip over more than once lol.

I've never been a prejudice person, not of race, age, or anything really.. but I couldn't help, as I looked around the bus, but notice that I was in fact the only white person riding. Half way through the route a middle age white man got on - dressed for probably a construction job, but he only stayed on for a few stops - probably using the bus to get to a carpool. The ages of the riders were varied, from early twenties to possibly late 60's or 70's. A beautiful young black woman got on at the second stop with her two little girls - probably ages 3 and 5 or 6. They were riding the transit to school. I couldn't help but wonder how they ended up going to the school they were let off at when it was a good ways from where they boarded the bus. In Mobile you're required to attend schools in your district. But more than that it just really hit me.. here is a young mother - boarding the public transit at 7am to take her babies to school. For some reason I never imagined there being a need like that. I mean I know there is poverty and misfortune in America, but when you think of children going to school, somehow the public transit system never quite comes to mind in the picture you imagine.

I got to the mall, which is the connecting stop, at about 7:40am. The next bus I needed to take wouldn't come until 8am. It wasn't until I'd been sitting outside for about 10 minutes that I realized just why the driver offered to let me wait on the bus. IT WAS COLD! But there were several people, again of all ages, again of only one race sitting on the benches under the metal awning waiting for the next bus to take them to their destination. It was about this point that I stopped just going along for the ride (I read the first half of my trip) and really let the reality of what was going on around me start to sink in. I opened my eyes, and my mind to see.. An elderly white lady got on sometime during the second half of my trip. She was on her way to a dr appt. She had one of those 4 leg walkers with the seat in the middle. A couple of seats next to me was a young girl, in her early to mid-twenties. She had a McDonald's visor in hand and was trying to nap during the ride.

It was looking at that McDonald's visor that it hit me like a kick in the gut. I was in an accident, ya. My car will be in the shop for 2 weeks getting repaired, ok. I'm bruised from head to toe and feel like I've been thrown down a flight of stairs, sure. But I'm alive. I have a good ok decent lol paying job. I HAVE a new car even though it's a bit banged up right now. I have my health. I have for all intents and purposes a pretty damn good life. I felt guilty.. for feeling self pity about my situation, for being angry that my family didn't jump and come to Mobile to make sure I was ok after my wreck. (My cousin Karen did come stay the night with me the night of the wreck and for that I am so grateful) But I wanted my sister to come, my dad to call and see if I was ok.. All of which you're probably thinking are normal things.. ya well you haven't met my family, but that's an entirely different blog!

The night after my accident I was so upset, so hurt, so tired, just so overwhelmed about everything in life that I wanted to die. I laid in bed, weeping and begged God to just take me home. My Thanksgiving was ruined, my birthday was spent alone, in pain, with no where to go and no way to get there. I have to pay a $500 deductible that I don't have to get my car out once it's repaired, and God only knows how much the hospital bills will be from being taken to the ER in an ambulance! It was just too much, I was too tired and I couldn't take it anymore. I finally fell asleep and when I woke up the next morning it was a new day. None of the problems I was facing had gone away, it still hurt that my family hadn't been there for me the way I'd needed them to, but I'd been given a new day, a new breath, a new opportunity to get through.

I won't lie and say I all of a sudden got happy and thankful, or that I had an epiphany that everything was going to work out perfect. But this morning on the bus I got a glimpse of what my life COULD BE.. and it hit me that in spite of all the crap the world throws at me, and all the things that happen to bring me down, I could have it so much worse than I do. Not to say my life is any better than anyone else's, but I know that in 2 weeks, my car will be repaired and by some miracle, God will, as He always does create a way for me to have what I need. I know that even though I don't particularly enjoy sitting at at desk, I have a good steady reliable job that allows me to have an apartment with heat, a bed with soft sheets and comfy pillows, a refrigerator with food in it, an oven AND microwave to cook that food in, clean clothes to put on in the morning, hot water to take a shower... and so much more.

There's a blog I follow by a guy names
Travis Ruse. It's a photo blog and it's pictures he takes of people on the express train on his daily commute to and from work in Brooklyn. When I first found the page and looked through the pictures I was just blown away by the simplicity, complexity, beauty and so many more adjectives, of the images he'd taken. People, just like you and me, people you've never met, and probably will never meet, yet in the images Travis takes you feel that you know them. You feel like you know their journey, their struggle, their accomplishments, their life, and yet this morning when I hopped on the bus, hoping it wasn't too awful of an experience I was surrounded by those same people, I WAS one of those people. And it was amazing. I think even after I get my car back I will take the bus every once in a while just for the experience. I truly recommend everyone use their public transit system. Even if only once. But when you get on the bus, get on and open your eyes... open your mind.. open your heart and you will see that you are so so incredibly blessed beyond your greatest imagination.

I laugh to myself now as I hear in my head the comments some people will make at the idea of using their local public transit system. Um no thank you, ew gross, that's only for poor people, ugh only smelly people ride the bus... they're all comments I've heard and some I'm ashamed to say I've probably thought at one time or another. I can promise you, just try it.. once.. and truly be aware of your surroundings when you ride... it will be an experience that can and if you let it change the way you think about your life, about other's lives, about life in general.

So I leave you now.. I have 4 hours and 6 minutes until I leave my office and walk the half mile to the bus stop to catch my ride home. I probably won't get there until about 7pm. I'll lose the time I usually use to feed my cats, change into my pj's, watch the episode of Ellen I recorded from earlier in the day, cook dinner and relax after work.. but I'll be grateful for every second of the ride.. knowing that there is nothing, absolutely NOTHING this world can throw my way that God can't and won't provide a solution for. It may not be the solution I'd like..but His solution just might be better FOR me.

God Bless..

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