This I Believe

Alexander - loomis, California
Entered on November 1, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: community

I believe in public transportation. If you’re a king or a beggar, everyone can love public transportation. When my grandfather was an immigrant from Greece living in an abandoned box car, he’d ride trolleys to jobs that pay 2 cents for a day of near slave labor. He’d see the country and people at 5 a.m. when he’d wake up, and the world sleeping when he’d return at 8 p.m. that night. Later in life he’d take the same trolleys to his multimillion dollar optometery bussinness, showing the same pride and love for life that he showed in his youth. He saw everyday what people needed, heard first hand from their own mouths, whether it had been a ditch digger for a day, or a new pair of glasses for your kids, public transportation gave him a medium to connect with his fellow man. When my father was traveling through the middle east, he took the bus everywhere, even if it didn’t match his destination. He’d find himself in completely alien and strange places, places thousands of people travel each day, but without public transportation he never would have seen for himself. He saw random terrorist hijackings, men and women proposing to each other, and a myriad of intimate human experiences with complete strangers. Today when I ride the train I keep that same mentality. It doesn’t matter where im going, the journey is the destination. People from all walks of life sit together, discuss their daily lives, beautiful and homely, in suits or in tatters, everyone sits as equals. The other day I was taking a 3:30 shuttle on the Bay Area Rapid Transportation system. A man came up to me boldy and asked me about my sweatshirt, 10 minutes later we were in a heated debate about the political structure of America, criticizing viewpoints, analyzing current events, and it didn’t even pass my mind that I didn’t even know the mans name. This is a kind of magic that only exists on public transportation. I passed my actual stop just to stay and talk with a total stranger, and at the end of the ride he asked for a dollar for some food. On the train, prejudices and arrogance have no place. No vacation is complete without experiencing the people, culture and sights of the location. With the train, everyday is a vacation because I notice new things, people and cultural aspects of my society that I never new existed. It reminds you that you’re a speck in a never ending universe with millions of lives going on around you. You can take a look at a single person and write novels about what they must be thinking, where they came from, and every detail of their day, and then you can go sit next to them and ask them for yourself. You understand that your problems are minuscule, but at the same time feel so important in life. A magic that I believe comes from public transportation.