PERSONAL: The commute syndrome

Fany Savina
A bus or a snowplow?

One day, I found myself unable to use my car to get to work.

Through unfortunate circumstances, I had lent it to my family the Sunday night. Upon laying my head on my pillow that same night, a thought suddenly struck me. How will I get to work? The answer was obvious; I would have to commute, take the bus, ride with the plebeians.
Of course, I had a normal lower middle class childhood —didn't everyone?— in Dublin, full of bus excursions, first to head to school, then to head to my friends', then to go to work, until I tasted the joy of a learner's motorcycle permit (queue Born to be Wild 🎶).
Then the car licence followed, and I never looked back.

I like the comfort of my car, my own music blasting, the windows up or down, the speed I want.

So when I realised I would have to go back to taking the bus, leaving an hour earlier rather than just twenty minutes, the future looked bleak.
First challenge, finding the change to pay for the trip; finding too little and asking yourself, will the conductor hate me if I pay in one, two, and five cents? Concluding that very probably yes.
Walking to the bus stop, stressing that I might miss the bus and arrive late after all.
Arriving right on time but stressing that the conductor won't understand my intentions to get on and not stop for me (the plight of being alone at the bus stop).
Getting on the bus after all but having to explain, like some sort of alien, that I don't know how to take the bus, where to put my card, though at least I had a card.
Finding a seat while still hearing the conductor's chortle at my ineptitude. 
Finally sitting down. Now the only thing that could possibly go wrong is missing my stop, so I kept my eyes riveted on my phone, the GPS tracking my progress, telling me in exactly how many stops to get off.

The only times my eyes left my screen, was to see the dismal and crushing depression that surrounded every other commuter.

Did I look like I wanted to kill myself as much as everyone else? Was no one safe from the aura of depletion that existed on the bus?
I wondered if it's even possible to live the life you love and love the life you live, because judging by their faces, it was a bleak possibility. 
Finally getting off the bus, I looked at it head off (I had been overly eager not to be late that I was now thirty minutes early, so I had time to waste in introspective reflections). My heart broke a little, thinking of all those people, evidently hating their life. I headed inside the shopping mall and got to my work, and started my day of making and serving fast food crêpes.
I often think back to that fateful day I had to take the bus, and my conclusion can only be this: people would be less depressed about their menial jobs if they stopped commuting by bus.

At least they'd have less time to ponder on their situation.



  1. What are the chances of two of us (you and me) giving #bus a #hashtag on January 22, 2020 (you) and January 24, 2020 (me)? My reason for doing so, of course, began with the late, great #JimLehrer growing up in a bus family, loving buses all his life, and writing and speaking about buses. I loved your bus story and your caption for your drawing, "A bus or a snowplow?" On January 22 during a slushy day on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City (MO) during a walk back from a yearly dental appointment, the drivers of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -5 small snow plows waited for me to cross a street in an intersection. Oh - and by the way - my #blog was


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