Thursday, August 23, 2007

Public Transportation

"As of the 2007 Fall semester, University of New Mexico students can ride all city buses for FREE as part of the Lobo Ride Pass program."

After seeing this headline, I immediately drafted a plan to utilize Albuquerque's public transportation system to get me around town - for free. So I got my Lobo Ride Pass sticker attached to my LoboID and tried it out on Tuesday.

No big deal, right? It seemed mundane enough. I figured that on some days I could take the bus to class to save on gas. Simple enough.

However, my ride that morning sent my whole day on tilt. My experience on the bus that day was not what I expected.

I spent the first 45 minutes overhearing a woman with two children describing how well her life was going at a battered woman's shelter. Her story wasn't depressing, she wasn't looking for pity and she didn't have a victim mentality. In fact, she was surprisingly optimistic. I found her story sad, hopeful, puzzling, and intriguing but I don't know why.

One reason could be just how distant her story felt to me. I felt just like I did in Juarez and in Tijuana - looking at a world distant and separated from my own. Yet here she was on the same bus I was on. She lived in the same world I do. And I couldn't get that concept through my head.

Could it be that the people on that bus, living in women's shelters and spending nights at Joy Junction or on the streets lived in the same world I do?

Honestly? They don't. I live such a privileged life. My "problems" don't hold up against what some of these people go through daily. The particular bus route I was on came closer to Joy Junction than any other route. A number of passengers talked among themselves freely about the homeless shelter and about their own lives. Drug addiction was so apparent on some of these people. To be honest, I was unsettled by their wrinkled faces and nervous demeanor. On the way home a man boarded with his wife and kids, tattoos adorning his knuckles, arms, and eyebrows - that was unsettling.

The next day, after a hot shower and a hearty breakfast, I opted to drive my parent's car to school instead of using public transportation.

There's more I would say but it just makes me feel sick.

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