The other night I had a dream about riding the bus. A passenger pulled the cord, but the driver went past the stop. Then people pulled the cord for the next stop, and the driver kept going. It’s not on the route anymore, he said.
More like a bus nightmare.
In my waking world, I rode the bus from my campus to daycare one afternoon last week. The timing worked out perfectly. The driver did stop when I pulled the cord but did not open the back door. He was talking to the passengers boarding in the front while I stood at the back — “Can you open the back door, please?” I tried to project, but my voice ends up being very quiet in public settings while very loud at home. Then some other people yelled, “Back door!” and voila. I was out.
When we moved to our new house, we knew we would not be as close to both of our jobs or the daycare for Metro (formerly Baby Rider). Only a few miles, but the geography is such that it made a big difference. At our former house, I could easily walk, bike, or take the bus to work, and I did. The daycare was also in walking distance, although we weren’t using it yet. R had about a 10-15 minute drive to his job.
At the new house I can take the train to work, after walking or taking the bus to the station. R has a 20 minute drive if it’s the right time in the morning. With the arrival of Metro, I had grand plans about commuting. She and I would walk or take the bus — I would either wear her in a carrier or push her in the stroller — and then take the train, which stops near her daycare. Then I’d catch a bus or the train to get to work. Except, it would be two trains. One train to the transfer station and then the second train. And the buses, whether from our house to the station or from the daycare to my job, run about every 40 minutes or so. Ideal timing is difficult to achieve. Add to that my bag for work and her bag, which contains bottles, diapers, and other essentials, and a bitterly cold winter, and, well, I have yet to take her to daycare following that route.
When I returned to work and R was home with M, I did do that most days. I walked or took the bus to the train and did the reverse home. Some days I got a ride, but I rarely took the car myself. When we both returned to work and M started daycare, everything changed. What generally happens now is this:
Three days a week, we all leave the house together. R drops me off at work. Then he takes M to daycare, and then he drives to work. In the afternoon, I either walk or take the bus to daycare and R drives there, and we all drive home together. Or he picks M up and then picks me up. The idea is on these days I can take the train home — be on my own schedule and have some ME time (even if it is time commuting) — and meet them there, but that hasn’t happened yet. Mostly because of me.
The other two days, R works from home. I drive M to daycare. I can park there or at the nearby train station and take the train (2 trains) or bus to work and then take the train (2 trains) or bus back. What I really do is then drive to my work and use one of my special parking permits that allow me to park there for the day because I don’t have a permanent parking permit. Then I drive back to daycare. So, the other week, when M and I took the train home together, that was the exception and not the new normal.
The new normal is the car. Maybe if spring finally comes and stays here, we’ll try some more public transit, but what it comes down to is time. We already wake up earlier than we used to and take longer to be ready. I can drive and be there in 15 minutes or so, or I can walk/bus/train and take closer to an hour. It’s not quality time because M usually falls asleep in her carseat. I’m just driving and flipping through radio stations. When we get home, we have about 2 hours or so before it’s time for M to go to bed. When R and I drive together, we do talk. But it’s time we’re not at work or not playing with M or not doing something else. It’s time we’re not outside — we could be outside walking to the train, but that’s also not leisure time. Taking the bus requires precision timing when there are only one or two bus options and they run infrequently. The train runs more often, but with the daycare being on a different route, there’s the timing of the two schedules.
When I’m on the bus, I frequently see women with small children (and sometimes men). It generally involves lugging a stroller. Because I don’t have to do that — I have options (and they may, too, but they choose the bus) — I have, so far, decided not to do that. I do feel good that we still have just one car and that we’ve cobbled together a system that works for us. It does show, though, that if the transit options aren’t convenient, then the car is too easy to fall back on.
I don’t even remember what day this was, but a few weeks ago I went to daycare from work to pick up Baby Rider and wait for R to drive us home. He would be late, but I had a carrier with me and the weather was relatively nice, so I decided we would take the train. R could pick us up at our arrival station and drive us home.
At the stop, I was carrying my bag, BR’s bag (empty bottles, dirty diapers, etc), and wearing her across my chest, when the security guard approached and asked to see my ticket. Really?! I thought. But I very politely fished out my pass to show him. I know he was doing his job, and I’m sure there are people who count on not being asked for an ID or ticket if they’re with a baby or carrying a lot of bags. Or both. Which reminds me of the day I accidentally shoplifted at Target with BR, even after having my cart and receipt checked by the security guard. But that’s a different story…
The train was more crowded than I expected, but I was able to get an aisle seat near the doors and sit semi comfortably with a baby strapped across my chest. We arrived at the next station where I saw our bus waiting. So I called R to say we’d just meet him at home, and we boarded the bus.
Near the front of the bus were a mom and her son and daughter, both in late elementary school probably. The girl noticed a wet spot on her seat – Ew! Her brother reached over, put his fingers to the spot, and then brought his fingers to his nose. It’s just water, he said. She looked around and realized the water bottle in her bag was leaking. Still, I thought, putting your fingers on a wet spot on the bus and then smelling them is a brave thing to do.
The rest of the quick trip was quiet, and we made it home shortly after R. This was the first time I can think of where BR rode the train and did not fall asleep!
Bus blogging has been put on the backburner for a number of reasons but two specifically: 1) we had a baby, and 2) I have not been riding the bus much lately. The latter is related to the former. We also moved, and once I came back from leave I would walk to the train station and then take the light rail to work. The light rail is much faster but not very interesting. Now that my husband and I are both at work and Baby Rider is in daycare, we carpool three days a week. After work I take the bus to the daycare, but that only started a couple weeks ago. The other two days, I drive Baby Rider to daycare while my husband works from home. The idea is that I’ll take the bus or train from her daycare to work, but that hasn’t happened yet – timing, weather, discounted on-campus parking passes, and so on.
But I’m dusting off the account and trying again. Posting may be sporadic, but I hope to be somewhat regular about it.
In case you missed it or me.