Interesting Commutes

Taking the bus and light rail train to work make my life more relaxed and intriguing. Some commutes are meditations. Others are material for a book. This everyday exotic aspect of travel is spilling into my more mundane drives in the Buick.

Early this week I had a magical commute in which a young man with neon red spiked hair, a nose ring like Ferdinand the bull's, and colorful tattoos from his pinkies to his armpits was the most polite person on the train. He was the one who gave up his seat for the elderly lady. She's still in shock, but should be released from the hospital soon.

I love the attitude I'm finding on mass transit. There is a sense of community I don't find often enough in this city. Maybe when I'm driving in my private fossil fuel-consuming device I am insulated from good parts of life! Riders seem willing to help each other, although it is mostly in an anonymous fashion. We tell the bus driver thank-you when we disembark because it adds to the positive nature of our day. Gratitude makes life nicer.

I love the mysteries of mass transit. It's not just the maps, codes, and schedules, although I'm fond of my new-gained secret handshake. I love suddenly discovering a door under the expressway that looks like a secret hobbit hole. I've driven through this intersection for six or seven years without spying that door. When I'm driving I don't get to see that the mentally-challenged man on the bus is bobbing his head to the exact same beat as the silvery purple pigeon up in the concrete I-beams of the bridge.

Riding home, I marveled at the man wearing rollerblades who had boxing gloves hanging over his shoulder. My kids and I had a lot of fun a decade ago rollerblading in the Latter Day Saints' parking lot. As long as I was on flat ground I could skate okay, but I never learned to stop without smashing into a fence. How on earth did this guy climb the stairs at the station and get on the train? Where was he going to skate with his boxing gloves? Would he listen to his iPod while he bladed and boxed? Did he ever see that cartoon with the boxing kangaroo?

On Friday I watched a man ride his unicycle down Arapaho Road. True, he wore spandex bike shorts and a helmet, but everything else in his bearing suggested that he would soon put on his suit and bowtie to consider our loan applications. Good things are happening! The circus must be coming to town! I feel like singing about the Wells Fargo wagon with little Opie.

Bopped up to Albertsons tonight to get some sliced ham and kaiser rolls. An ancient Karmann Ghia from Tennessee missing its window glass was parked next to the cart return shoot.

Karmann Ghias always make me laugh. During a teen church choir trip back in high school I received a Karmann Ghia revelation that males are significantly different from females. It was dark. We had performed our concert in Grant, Nebraska, or some similar town. Then we mingled with the natives and ate lots of jello salads with marshmallows. The tenors and basses went outside the old church to jump down from the top of the steep stone steps under the glare of a yellow streetlight with all the insects buzzing around. The girls crowded into the restroom to curl their eyelashes. Both options seemed pretty scary to me, but the guys had more breathing room. I didn't jump, but I watched the testosterone daredevil exhibition of city choir kids vs. local heroes. Back on the charter bus, we lit up some ridiculous cherry Swisher Sweets, coasting on a wave of comraderie. The bus seemed to drive ever so slowly. Boys looked out the bus windows and announced the sighting of a Karmann Ghia. They wanted the bus driver to race the Karmann Ghia, but the car was passing the bus. The tenors and basses seemed to think this was an affront to their manhood.

Being me, I looked out the bus window thinking I would see a Hindu leader wearing a turban and driving a small car in the right lane. Confused karma! The boys were exasperated as they explained the situation. They ranted about Karmann Ghias, and how the cars were propelled by hamsters and rubber bands. My brain was overloaded. Just the day before yesterday I had learned about hot roast beef sandwiches (think Wonder Bread and mashed potatoes served with an ice cream scoop). It was just too much to take in.

I'm not a religious person, but I do offer up this prayer nearly every day,

Let me be receptive. Restore to me my capacity to wonder.

To that I add,

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Amen, and pass the mashed potatoes!

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