I am a UCLA alumni and staff. I am in my late twenties and I have never driven a car to work or school. I do not own or possess a car.
From the day I set foot on this earth, my only mode of transportation was taking public transportation. The bus. The train. The subway. Every day is an adventure!
5:50am-6:25am: I am at the Gold line train station in Pasadena. I know exactly where to stand and wait. I close my eyes and lean against a pillar. Suddenly there is wind and the ground gently shakes. The train is coming. A 3 car train. I take delight from being able to sit down on the first available seat to the left of the train doors. Most of the passengers are asleep. My eyelids are heavy. Next thing I know I hear the train operator say “UNION STATION, NEXT STOP.”
6:25am-6:30am: Like a lion cub waiting patiently to pounce on their attended target, I sit motionless until the train stops. Then, I spring out of my seat and make my way out of the stampede. I run down the many flights of stairs, occasionally having to show my pass to a security official. These 5 minutes are crucial. If I stop for any reason, I know I will miss the 6:31am subway train to Wilshire/Vermont. My thighs and calves are getting tighter and heavier by the minute, but I must not stop! MMM…something smells very delicious! Wetzel’s Pretzel’s. My stomach growls. Do I stop to satisfy my hunger and miss my train and possibly risk being late for work? Tempting but NO!
6:31am: I am finally at the subway platform and am running, seconds away from the first car train. The train operator is talking to a tall man with a black hat which gives me about 10 more seconds. I silently thank the man for buying me enough time to finally enter the train and catch my breath. As I look outside the window, a mass of people are also running. Will they all make it? The doors are closing and I see a pair of hands trying to pry the doors open. I gasp as the door shuts close and his hands are stuck. “PLEASE REMOVE YOUR HANDS AND STEP AWAY FROM THE TRAIN” the train operator yells. Next thing I know, the hands are gone and the train is moving. Big sigh of relief.
6:32am-6:42am: Do not fall asleep! Vermont/Wilshire, remember, remember! 6 stops to go. Focus! Do not give in to slumber! I stand up and walk slowly to the door. I hold on and stare ahead. Looking back I see a brown haired girl take my seat. That is alright, I made a good choice. Stand and I shall not fall asleep. The next stop is where I get out. Hurray!
6:42am-6:44am: I have about 3 minutes to make it to the top and catch the Rapid bus. Which path do I choose? 10+ flights of stairs. Empty. OR 3 flights of escalators. Full of people. One one-thousandth, two-one-thousand, THREE. THE STAIRS! Like an automatic machine, my legs propel me up the flights of stairs at full speed. Next time I’ll bring water.
6:45am-7:15am: I am standing behind a group of high school kids. There’s no way I’m getting on the rapid bus with the Santa Monica headline. At least not this morning. I’m hungry, tired, and my patience is wearing thin. Not a good combination to have around kids. Luckily, the rapid bus with the Westwood headline approaches. The kids don’t get on, but I do. A lot of seats! Boy do I feel lucky this morning. I caught the trains and buses on time! Now I can sleep and dream about anything. No more worries of missing my stop since the end of the line is my last stop. Just as my head touches the back of my seat, a lady next to me, with a pleasant voice says “good morning, are you around from here?” I let go of my need to sleep and I welcome this conversation. The 30 minutes of conversation felt like only 5 minutes. This lady has one daughter and one grandchild. She lives two hours away from UCLA and works twice a week. She is almost at retirement age and tells asks me if I have a boyfriend. I say no but I am interested in someone. She tells me she has only one guy in her life which is her husband. She feels an urge to advise me about men. She tells me that having boyfriends are a “headache.” She prays that I meet a man who would want me to be his wife instead of just his girlfriend. I thank her for her prayers/advice. Before the last stop, we exchange information. I just made a new friend.
7:30am: Work. I am smiling. Enough said.
I wonder what will happen on my way home. What will I witness? Who will I meet next? What piece of wisdom will I learn? The journey into the unknown and knowing that I am being kind to the environment are what fuels me to continue this path of taking public transportation everywhere I go.
Please join the green commute! You will be giving yourself gifts of adventures!