I believe in the importance of public transportation. I believe that it is beneficial to any person to be corralled into a giant metal holding pen twice a day and dragged through tunnels under their city. I feel that any public transportation system, whether you call it the T, Metro, subway or el, both represents and shapes the people of the city that it serves.
We have all had days when we wish we never had to look at a black vinyl seat or an ad for medical research again. That crackling voice over the PA system letting you know you’re going to be late again can be torture. Yet what is beautiful about all of it is how it bonds us. When we are all stuck together between stations we are not that different. We are not a high school student, a businessman, a mother or a tattoo artist. We are all just being screwed over by the system.
In a world where we keep finding new ways to isolating ourselves, just the simple act of being shoved between two people you’ve never met is monumental. We may have our ears engaged by iPods or cell phones, our faces shoved in books or newspapers, or be participating in a shouting match over the echoes of the rails. We are going different places and coming from different ones too. We are rushing, or relaxed, or exhausted. We are assholes one day and saints another. Yet whatever we are doing, what is important is that we are together, united by our need to get somewhere.
As I begin the process of working toward my driver’s license I think about what becoming a driver means. It means an easier way of getting anywhere, even where the T’s tentacles do not reach. It means that I will now be responsible for a much smaller metal pen. But mainly it means I will have a new level of isolation from my world. As I imagine myself speeding down the highway I imagine I will not miss the random delays. I will not miss having to walk to my friend’s house because I forgot my student pass and can’t seem to convince the bus driver that I really am a student. I will not miss screech of metal on metal as we round a turn or the rising price of a ticket. What I will miss is the odd sense of community that comes with that ride we all make.
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