Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Quarter w/ Meaning

So today on the bus...

visual: Living lightly and brightly, I rock my hot pink leg warmers today and a luluelmon athletica work out one piece. Yes, you read that right, a one piece. My new purple and white aviator-esque sunglasses peer down Wilshire to find my bus approaching right when I arrive.

I love when the bus arrives just as I step up to the bus stop. Its a simple matter in life, but for me that is something I get a huge kick out of.

On the phone today with my boyfriend in Chicago, I put him on hold and step in line. A wonderful older gentleman is standing aside letting all passengers go before him. He is wearing green corduroys and a white shirt with a beige waterproof jacket. It is probably closet to 75 degrees and sunny, mid afternoon and he is ready for a mild snow storm. Alas, I nod at him, step on the bus and greet my bus driver. I grab quarters out of my backpack and begin to drop them in. On accident, I drop six quarters instead of five.

I smirk and look up to my bus driver. I said, "that last quarter is for him" and I point to the winter wonderland behind me.

I rush to the back and tell the boyfriend I have bus adventures to find and get to my spot by the double door.

As I peer up, I see the corduroy-clad man stumbling in an old man demeanor back to the back towards me. He comes right up in front of me and looks at me straight in the eyes and asks, "But why? Why did you pay a quarter for me?".

I smile, tap his shoulder and say, "Oh, that. You were so sweet to let everyone on the bus go before you, just a little love back".

At first I thought he was mad at me or something. He looks down and shakes his white haired-head. He looks up with tears on his wrinkled eyes and says, "Thank you is not enough. It would never be enough".

I chuckle almost. So dramatic. I lean in, "Oh, well I think thank you is always just enough." And I tap him on the shoulder and he smiles and thanks me again and again.

He maneuvers himself up to the front rows and I stand smiling.

A quarter, 25 cents and he is thanking me twice over. You really never know what something will mean to someone. Maybe he just needed someone to care, and that was who I got to be for him in that moment. Or maybe, he only had one dollar and this was all in the timing.

Or maybe, it was just perfect.

An extra quarter fell from my hand. And I made the day of that old man.

Felt quite right. Felt quite right.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Give Time, It Gives Back

So today on the bus....

visual: A black scoop neck athletic tank over my amazing and bright blue lululemon cropped leggings enjoy the sunshine as I walk to the bus stop. My flip flops meander across the cross walk and my green sunglasses look forward to the approaching St. Patty's day.

My stomach rumbles as I wait for the bus. I look back at the 711 Convenient Store, considering those damn taquitos. Maybe I will opt for a healthy selection. I run in and take a gander through the aisles and find myself somehow right back up front at the rolling hot dogs, burritos and taquitos.

I am on the phone with my best friend from college, Erin. She works at this cute bagel shop in the heart of our college town, Bloomington Bagel Company. Speaking with her always makes me crave a bagel-wich from there. Weird. Whilst on the phone with her, I am really hoping she will sway me to a healthy selection. She fails.

So, I am up front to aisle of unhealthy and there are these chicken tenders in this heated window box near the register. I go for it. Protein, right?

Now, the woman at cash is taking FOREVER and a day to ring people in. I mean, slow as molasses. I see a flash of red and there goes my bus. NO! I convey my disappointment of my timing to my friend and tell her I have to focus and call her back.

Waiting. Waiting. Of course, the gentleman in front of me needs cigarettes. She leaves the register in search of the requested brand. I am staring out the window. I will not miss the bus again!

Then, another gentleman standing in the door frame with his own coffee mug and sparkling glitterati belt yells to me, "I'll go hold the bus for you, if it comes!". And he runs out to the bus stop.

My mouth drops. Really? He must have overheard me complaining to my friend and offered to help. Amazing.

I walk out with my chicken tender in hand and convey my thanks and appreciation. I dwell on his compassion and he smiles and shrugs it off like its an every day occurrence. His name is Cletis and he lives up the block. Dressed in all black Armani Exchange and the fancy belt, he sips the 711 coffee out of his mug he carried down from home.

What a character. He comments on my athletic clothing and we talk about work outs in the area. He is very friendly and really has a beautiful presence and energy about him.

My bus approaches, I shake his hand and thank him so much for his help. I jump on smiling. Cletis went out of his way and took time to help me out. Who can I pay this forward to?

I sit near the back as the AC is blaring on the bus and I need a spot that is warm with the sunshine. I smile the entire ride and pass it on to those on the bus.

A gentleman approaches the rear exit and says "Hello". I say hi back and ask him how his day is. I know if Cletis can take time to hold a bus for me, I can take time to ask this man in the blue shirt how his day is going. Authentically.

His name was Henry and he was having a great day. He is a welder and passes me his construction card. It is a really beautiful card with a magnificent tree on one side, a blue background, and all his information listed. I tell him that I am yet to hold a business card of my own, but all in good time.

We exchange smiles and his stop approaches. We wish one another a great day and off he goes.

What a beautiful morning. Cletis, the friendly neighbor that offered his time and help, and Henry the welder with beautiful business cards.

In this moment, I feel like we all get wrapped up in time. "I don't have time". "I am too busy". All the stories we create for our realities. However, if we take a moment and give away time, be it for another or for ourselves, it seems to give back in so many ways.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The New and Healthy Way to Commute

So today on the bus...

visual: Bright as can be lululemon checkered running shorts, a lite blue tank, the green sunnies and my Asics jump on the bus today. My green iPod clips on my fanny pak and I let my head phones hang down to allow conversation - once I catch my breath - on the bus.

The morning seemed to slip away from me. My roommate left out Girls Scout cookies and Thin Mints were my breakfast of champions this morning with a delightful cup of homemade coffee. Emails, deliciously crunchy cookies, phone calls and life seemed to distract home longer than necessary. I had an early meeting planned and had to recalculate my bus timing.

How can I make this work? I now have 42 minutes to get to my destination and the Blackberry public transit calculations read I need over 1 hour to walk and bus. Eeek!

Solution! I put on my run gear and combined forces with public transit. A green workout!

I bound out of the house with my iPod shuffle rockin' my 80's run jams and five quarters clanking in my shorts pocket. Off to my 720 bus stop heading West to Santa Monica, I run.

I pop on the bus, remove my headphones and there I rock my stretches. Out of breath and happy for the ride to cut time, I greet my nearby passengers in between arm reaches.

A few stop later and I arrive close to the beach. Jump off and my run is back on.

An amazing morning in sunny California. I ran to the bus stop, bus route down to the Santa Monica beach, run along the boardwalk, and make it to my meeting. Thank goodness I work at an athletic company and can show up to meetings sweaty!

A workout and my bus life all in a morning's trip. Who knew?

A whole new and healthy way to commute!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We All Do Our Part

So today on the bus...

visual: Bad hair day called for my LA fitted baseball hat atop my green sunglasses, purple bamboo long-sleeve tee and navy lululemon leggings sit on the front of the bus on the way home.

The air is chilly today. I feel like LA is tricking us with these super sunny weeks and then chilly and somewhat drizzling weekends! This is not what I signed up for.

I sit in the front of my crowded bus this early evening and just relax.

There is a man in the back yelling about this and that. I swear I heard him yell: "I drank it! I drank the horse urine. I did! There aren't kids back here so I am just telling you....". And he went on and on about the horse urine. Not necessarily talking to anyone in particular. Just everyone and no one.

Horse urine? I just do not even know where that thought might have come from? You cannot help but listen.

My stop approaches and I exit the bus and thank my bus driver. They must hear the most interesting things on a full day of bus driving. I will write a poem for them soon...stay tuned. My 'Ode to a Bus Driver'....hell, I could be the next Shel Silverstein!

But for now, I leave the bus and head home in the chilly breeze.

As I turn the corner around the Veteran's Park, there is trash EVERYWHERE. I bend over and pick up a plastic bag rolling in the wind and put a couple items in it.

A white Honda Civic pulls over and rolls down the window, an English woman leans over and yells to me in her amazing accent, "That was a wonderful thing you did there. I was going to get out and do the same and you took care of it". I smiled and said, "we all do our part!". She threw me a thumbs up and drove off.

How lovely. She pulled over to thank me for taking care of our good Earth. That felt right.

We can all do our part. The bus drivers deal with us crazies (me being one of them), we give thanks where thanks is due, we pick up trash on the floor of the World, and we can be happy....every day.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Frequent Rider Miles?

So today on the bus...

visual: I rush to work today in my hot pink headband, purple-ish blue lululemon relaxed fit pants and an almost seafoam green jacket. Blackberry at my ears and blue flip flops on my seat, I await my ride.

It is a quiet day today. I am up early and the sun is just arising, but even so, the World seems to sleep in late today and the hustle and bustle has slowed down. It seems to make me slow down.

I wait for my bus and ponder my iPod. It sits bright and green in the pocket of my pants - yet, I leave it alone. My bus pulls up; I jump on and and bid my bus driver a wonderful morning. He responds with a whispered thanks. Quiet all over this place.

As I am riding, I look around the bus. What do we have here today?

Not too much. Sleepy passengers and loose windows banging with each pothole on Wilshire Boulevard.

I ponder the recent tips I have received about a TAP card and day passes, as I check my backpack for quarters for my ride home later today. The change thing can be a hassle. However, as of late, my Christmas presents and birthday presents have consisted of quarters. You think I am kidding, my Grandparents gave me a bag shaped as Santa Clause for Christmas full or quarters, and my Mom was in town last weekend and gave me a box of quarters for Valentine's Day. Creative, yes. Necessary, of course! Its pretty amusing when you see me open my gift and I am so happy to have all this silver....for the bus!

However, on that note, I began to wonder why the bus does not utilize a frequent bus rider program? Naive, maybe? Brilliant, possibly? Southwest, American Airlines, Cold Stone Creamery - they all have great incentives for your 13th flight free, or 10th cone on us! I think the Metro could take a tip!

Well, all this thinking became an action. I departed my bus ride and later that day emailed I informed them of the bus 'frequent rider program' idea and perhaps offering some type of incentive to get our city green and coax people to the fun that is Public Transportation! I signed my customer comment, Your Truly, "Snob On a Bus".

And wouldn't you know, they wrote me back!

Due to the number of transit public and the reduction in state/federal funding, is not possible to offer free rides. However, there may be discounts available using TAP cards on their website

Metro Customer Relations(213) 922-6235

First and foremost, thank you to Metro Customer Relations for getting back to me so quickly and with additional information to explore. Impressive.

Second, I have visited and there are promises of incentives and discounts to come in the future. But as of right now, nothing.

I will do some research on state/federal funding - but as of right now, we have no punch card or 8th ride free....yet.