Who Needs The Bustle?
The editorial staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune has officially gone nuts. You don't believe me? Today they published the following beauty about the current transit workers strike that has halted public bus service in the Twin Cities.
Bus Stop/An Empty Corner
Outside a friend's window on Thursday morning an elderly woman stood alone at the corner bus stop, waiting. No telling how long she had been there. By the time our friend dressed for work and headed outside, she was gone -- informed, perhaps, by a passerby that no buses would be coming today, or possibly any day soon.
What was this writer doing at "our friend's house" so early in the morning and, if she was so concerned about the elderly woman waiting for a bus that would never come, why in the hell didn't she pop across the street to tell the poor soul that there was a strike going on? What an uncaring and thoughtless bastard!
Already the transit strike has altered the rhythm of life on this particular corner of the universe, a grid coordinate best described as Old St. Anthony, northeast Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, Midwest, United States, Western Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Solar System, Milky Way. From such a height it must seem unimportant that 265 buses pass by this corner on a normal weekday.
(Mouth agape and stunned silence.) I think the writer is clearly on hallucinogens. "You're telling me that the entire universe could be just an atom of the fingernail of another being? Dude, that is SOOOO deep!"
Indeed, it was an unimportant fact to our friend when he moved onto the corner last fall after living for years in the suburbs as a confirmed driver. But a few simple calculations (frequency of service, reasonable fares, cost of gas and parking) drove him to reconsider. He got hooked to the point that the bus became the preferred mode of travel to work, shopping, Timberwolves games, the Guthrie, the university, etc., not because he didn't have a car (he had two) but because the bus was better, not only as a way to get to certain places but as a way to learn things along the way, things that can't be learned in a car.
Let me get this straight (no pun intended), "our friend" goes to sporting events but (no pun intended) he likes to shop, he likes the theatre and he likes to visit the bars in Dinkytown where young college-age men routinely hang out. Perhaps I was a bit off base when I assumed the writer was female.
And I really like the "confirmed driver" bit. Driving really is a like a bad habit. We all just need to wake up and admit our sickness.
About people, for example. There is no better opportunity than a bus at rush hour for brushing up against the full range of what constitutes the human enterprise in Minnesota. Guys in suits, like our friend. Women with briefcases. Kids doing homework. Immigrants starting new lives. Hip-hopsters on cell phones. Men with lunch pails. Women with babies. Over time you begin to absorb a fuller dimension to life, to problems, to aspirations, than before, back when you were pinned behind the wheel with talk radio's bleak conspiracies. At least, that's the way our friend tells it.
Riding the bus allows you to experience all that's good about humanity. Obnoxious kids who should have done their homework the night before, people who don't speak English, gang members, men who actually bring their lunch to work in "pails" and crying babies. I'm sold!
Also, note the obligatory shot at talk radio.
He missed his bus rides on Thursday. He missed the folksy Minnesota custom of riders uttering to the driver "thank you" as they depart. He hopes the bustle soon returns to his empty corner. He hopes the woman who was waiting there on Thursday morning somehow found her destination. He hopes for a quick, fair solution to this strike. So do we.
What is it with bustle that everyone seems to think makes an ideal city? I can't stand bustle...and I'm not too fond of hustle either. If the transit worker strike results in fewer people bustling, I'm all for it.