For the past week I have been taking the bus anywhere I need to go in Porterville. At first, I thought how humiliating. I'm a teacher, a college graduate, dammit. How did I manage to find myself in this position? Losing two cars due to my own stupidity (not up for discussion) was humiliating enough. So, on Monday I mustered up as much reserve as I could find, got the schedule online and waited for the first bus I would take in 23 years.
I got on the bus and the first thing I did was judge everyone on there. What a bunch of losers (not counting the teens on the bus going to school. They were exempt from my disdain). Then I began to hate myself for ending up right next to "them". There was someone on the bus I had known when I went to Porterville College, and I was ashamed that she saw me. I averted her eyes and kept to myself. I hugged my purse to my chest on my lap and made no eye contact with anyone. I put in my earphones, cranked up the music and thought about Gerry - what I usually do when I can't face reality.
We got to the Hub and I had to ask what to do next. How I hate doing that. I'm the type who likes to be the one who knows everything; and here I was, helpless and stupid. I found my second bus and prayed that God would spare me the further humiliation of having any of Butterfield's students on it. Luckily, He took pity on me. We got to the Adult School/Butterfield stop, and had to wait to go in; further proof I was a loser. My self-esteem was in the toilet.
Then my cousin Erica reminded me that our Grandmothers, our sheroes in our lives, had always taken the bus to get wherever they needed to go. As a child, my mother and I schlepped everywhere around Brooklyn by bus, and instead of being proud of where I came from I was sad to be back in that situation. Self-pity and self-loathing are two of my best friends, you know. They come with me wherever I go, reminding me of my failures.
Tuesday was payday, and I had to figure out how to leave work at 10:30, cash my check, buy a bus pass, eat, etc., and be back to work by 2:00. I could do this. I had no choice. So I waited out by Butterfield for the bus to come when the online schedule said it would be there. And I waited; and I waited. Almost 30 mins passed and I realized something wasn't right. So I had to think of Plan B. I would walk up to Savemart, see if they would cash my check, get something to eat and get the bus pass another day. I walked toward Henderson and as I got to the corner of Milo and Westfield, there was another bus! I thought well, I'll get on that one and take it to the Hub. It worked! I got there, and then walked to the bank, cashed my check, and felt pretty good about things. I walked back, had Subway for lunch, and then went into the bus station. I paid $36 for my pass (worth it), took a horrible picture and got a schedule. The online schedule was WAY off. I had an hour to kill to I went to Savemart and got some stuff then went back and waited 30 mins for the bus back to work - which got me there by 1:15.
It's now been a week of all this, and I've come to realize that it's pretty neat taking the bus. Some of the lines take me all around before getting me home, but I don't have to walk very far at all to get home! Pretty much door-to-door service! I can sit in an air conditioned bus (my car had no air), read my book that I'm turning into a screenplay for Mr. Butler, listen to my music, and hope that my Mother, Grandmother and Great Aunt are proud of me.
Today I needed to get to the store and back, and it was awesome! I read, I shopped, I read again, and I was home. Yes, it took longer than if I had a car, but really, it was really .... FUN.
I've come to recognize some of the same riders, and even have started talking to the bus drivers. Yes, ME - the educated teacher snob. For the most part, everyone is really nice and like everyone else in the world just want someone to talk to. The drivers are really nice, and there are many ways to get through town.
I'm thinking of hopping on some bus lines I've never rode (is that correct English?). I think it would be fun! An adventure in Porterville. See where things take me.
The best gift from all of this is realizing that I don't have to be a spoiled brat in order to take care of myself. I just have to muster up that good Russian stock inside myself and know that I am the result of three generations of strong women who never let anything stop them from going and doing (cocking and fahling, in Yiddish).
So, I think God is teaching me a great lesson in humility, trust and strength of character. I gave up on myself this summer, resorted to many self-destructive behaviors and actions. I think now is when God is saying, "Hey, dumbass! You're better than that!"
And, so is my lesson of the bus.