For the past two years, I had been a reluctant participant of the “lone commuter” population.  Each morning, I bravely endured the clogged arteries of the heart of the West Coast: I-5.  My office is, quite literally, as far from my house as it can be, while still residing in the same city limits.  The actual distance is nothing to complain about, clocking in at just under 10 miles each way.  But the traffic!  There were days when I pulled up to work almost an hour after I left my home.  10 miles.  In an hour.

Add to the above situation a severe case of road rage.  Certainly not the “I’ll kill your dog” kind of road rage, but the “so tired of being cut off, tailgated, honked at, not let over, brake-checked, and getting flipped off that it puts me in a bad mood all day” kind of road rage.  Maybe “rage” is too strong a word. 
 
Extreme Road Irritation – though that almost sounds more like a rash description.
 
So, mix my anything-but-delicate condition with a rapidly rising fuel cost, and voila!  A new “alternative” commuter.  Between my bike and the bus, I manage to get to work every day, while using less than a tank of gas every month. 
 
My employer generously provides a transit pass to all full-time employees.  With this, I can take the bus, the train, or the tram to get myself from point A to point B.  I had dabbled a bit in the bus-riding routine, but could never fully commit.  Until keeping my car feuled began to hungrily swallow nearly a third of my budget.  It was about that time that I walked my lazy bum down to the nearest bus stop.  Turns out, one bus will take me all the way from my neighborhood, through downtown, and out on the other side, where I work.  The unfortunate part is that it takes an extra half-hour to get there.  Each way.  Which, I confess, initially dampened my enthusiasm for public transportation.  But when I finally gave it a shot – it was as if a whole new world had been opened up to me.  I finally had a few moments to myself to enjoy a good book.  There were no veins bulging from my forehead after getting cut off.  I was – relaxed.  Calm.  Actually enjoying myself. 
 
I continued catching the bus, and it’s easily become my preferred way of getting to work.  On Wednesdays, I participate in an event that happens right after work, and I drive my car in order to make it on time.  But I always feel a little bit disappointed to be stepping into my car, instead of onto the bus.  The walk from my house to the bus stop gives me 10 or 15 minutes to enjoy the morning, something I rarely have the opportunity to do if I’m gritting my teeth behind the wheel.  And driving means I won’t get to read the book that I’m dying to finish, that I need to return to the library the next day, and I can’t renew because there’s a hold on it.  As with anything, there are a couple of drawbacks to my new commute.  The additional time investment, as mentioned above, is kind of a bummer.  Following the bus’ schedule can occasionally be irritating – I have to wait for it to show, instead of jumping into my car – especially on days when I’m already running late.  But for me, the pros far outweigh the cons.
 
My goal for the month of June was to limit my car-commute to 2 days per week.  I met that goal, and have continued into July.  As I enter the eighth week, I still enjoy the bus now as much as ever.  Of course, there are a few riders who could probably stand to learn some consideration – like the guy who kept whacking my head with his bulky backpack.  Or the lady sitting beside me who insisted on having her newspaper open full spread – even if that meant half of it was in my lap.  But the majority of other riders are probably just like me – trying to make it home, after a long day at work, and saving themselves a few bucks. 
 
So next time the guy next to me has his music turned up so loud that I feel like I’m stagefront at a rap concert, or the lady across the aisle is screaming into her cellphone, I will just look at the bright side: at least they didn’t cut me off.
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