So Much Anger (Around Transit)

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

August 29, 2010

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Categories: The Balancing Act

I like to read. I’ve got my Google Reader operating at a rate that I use and monitor. I like reading blogs. I wish my Momma friends would blog more! I like reading blogs about the things that interest me. (Yes, Mr. McMahon, that sentence was a lot like, “Skiing is fun. Skiing is good exercise.”) So, what interests me? Food. Public transit. Policy. And, certain conversations regarding green things.

I like to glance at a Portland-TriMet Bus Drivers blog every now and then and Portland Transport to get an idea or keep my finger on the pulse of what Portland Transport people are talking about. Then, when I read those blogs, I often end up looking at what latest, greatest thing the O has to say about transit. They even have a (LA Transplant) blogger dedicated to reporting on Portland Transit, most namely Tri-Met. All these comments! All these thoughts. They are so full of hate.

I’ve been commuting, now, for 4 weeks. For 4 weeks, every day, save one because of a bout with the Stomach Flu (See Lasley Puke-fest 2010). We usually drive the Gas Guzzler because, oddly, that has become My Car! My job, my lovely, wonderful, green job is 20+ miles away from my home. This means we are filling up the Gas Guzzler every four days. Every day, I drive in traffic. Every day I drive in congestion. There is no part of our commute that is safe from congestion. Sure, there are routes we can take to try and minimize the congestion we encounter, but no route is safe from it. Every day in congestion I get angry.

Disney had a little cartoon from the 50s that detailed how the mild-mannered citizen turned into a raving lunatic once he got in his car. Driving too fast, protected by the steel and glass cage. Blood pressure boiling with a terrible attitude, all that disappeared once the car was parked and he got out of it. I think it’s an accurate portrayal of how we behave. Once in the car, we are suddenly free to be assholes.

That’s one reason why I enjoyed commuting so much. It wasn’t 15-40 minutes of rush, rush, rush, it was 5-10. And that 5-10 minutes was spent walking to my bus stop. So, instead of rushing in a sedentary manner, I was exercising.

It’s hard to argue for commuting on public transit with a small person for an hour and a half. I think we could manage it once a week, but the 1p quit time would turn into a 5p or 6p get home time. It would work best when my husband works at the garage in between our homes.

So, I was calmer in commuting, but I guess that was really when the buses or trains weren’t packed. When they were packed to the gills, I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t take a breath or comfortably read my book. I had to stand, monitor my giant bag ensuring it didn’t whack anyone in the face. Always on high alert that you move back enough. No one talks, they just glare.

So, if this is the commuting experience of the O Blogger, then I guess I understand why he’s so belligerent about bus drivers and the transit system. No matter what way you slice it, we are all rushing outside of our comfort zones. An extrovert friend commented to me that extroverts are rare. Meyers Brigs people claim its 50/50, but I know I know a hell of a lot of introverts. People who need their refresh time. If we don’t get our refresh time, we can get cranky. So, if we’re all cranky commuters, I guess that means we’re all angry commuters. Not a lot of love there.

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