When I was a little girl, I took the school bus and no, not the short one. My mom was protective and made sure I got on the right bus, but now that I’m an adult, I’m not sure she’d be so loving. “You’ll be fine. You’re an adult. Just get on the bus.” I know that’s what she’d say.
You have to understand that public transportation has always been a fear of mine, but I decided to compile a list of how to survive it.
- Plan ahead – I went on Port Authority’s website and printed out a map as well as the schedule. I figured out what time I had to be down at the bus stop in order to catch the right bus and how much I’d have to pay.
- Stop watching Law & Order SVU – Any show that portrays people getting murdered/tortured is never good. I can’t even tell you how many different scenes were running through my head. It became overwhelming so in my purse was a pocket knife. A pocket knife. Even if I had to defend myself, I’d probably end up stabbing myself. I can barely open the thing.
- Talk to strangers – As I was waiting at the bus stop, I saw a bus approaching that wasn’t clearly marked. It was also arriving at an off time so I asked the guy next to me. He confirmed it was the bus I had to take and here began my adventure.
- Bring extra money – Well, there goes planning ahead. The website said $2.00 but apparently it’s $2.50 now. I didn’t have change so the city received an extra $.50. It’s best to purchase a monthly pass if you’re an avid bus rider, but if you’re like me, no. No thanks.
- Know your surroundings – I remember there was a young girl to my left reading on her Kindle, two elderly women in front of me, and to my right a woman who was a space cadet. I mean, she didn’t come to until someone nudged her and pointed to her purse and the spilled contents on the floor. On the back of the bus, there were the sleepers. Everyone was either passed out or in the process. It made me feel safer knowing who was around me. Kind of.
- Ignore the graffiti – I never realized how beautiful graffiti truly is. I’m not going to lie, I was admiring the colors, details, lines – everything. Then a huge, middle finger greeted me. “You’re going to die” and “Don’t turn around” were my favorites. I learned that if I wanted to join a gang, contact “Guerrero” and WTO stands for ‘World Take Over’. The more you know, amirite?
- Roll with the punches – Pull the yellow cord to indicate that a stop has been requested. Simple. Well, the screen that tells you what the next stop is, stopped working. I was officially downtown and a swarm of people exited the bus. The only people left? Me and the guy I spoke to earlier. He was wearing headphones so instead of getting up and asking him a question, I yelled. He walked over and sat across from me. I apologized for being rude, told him my intersections, and then he told me when and where to exit. I’m pretty sure he’s going to take a different bus from now on.
- Don’t trust technology – Stupid Garmin. Stupid pedestrian feature. Stupid. So, I assumed that once I exited the bus, I’d turn on Gabby (the Garmin) and she’d lead the way. No. She was worthless and again, I had to ask for help. This woman I ran into was so sweet. She asked if I was from PA. I lied. I felt awful, but “no” came out of my mouth before I even processed her question. So I just went with it and told her I just moved here. She felt bad for me and if she didn’t have an agenda, I think she would’ve invited me over for cookies. Thankfully, I wasn’t far from my building.
- Exercise – This will sound ridiculous but I began to speed walk away from the woman. As soon as I was indoors, my shins were killing me. So, my shins hurt, my feet were tingly, and my legs didn’t work as a team. I looked like a toddler trying to walk for the first time. I call it air crawling.
So there you have it, my friends. You’re welcome in advance.