When I was a broke-ass student, my primary mode of transport was either the bus or my bike. Pedaling a bike wasn’t a bad thing because I’ve been on two wheels since I was four. But I remember all too well that boarding the bus made me feel even more impoverished, almost as if the very thought of taking public transport was an enormous badge of shame.
Back then, I didn’t realize that being an American meant having been brainwashed from a very early age by the corporate plantation owners that only poor folk take the bus. Nay, all I could see was the end of a school term in a long series of sleep-deprived semesters and dead-end, minimum wage paying jobs that comprised the time I spent getting an education. But I was OK with it because I believed my indigence was temporary.
At long last, after finally having obtained a college degree, several years and thousands of dollars in student loan debt later, I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. As it turns out, however, that light was attached to an oncoming freight train headed straight for me. The awesome job a college education touted never seemed to materialize, but it wasn’t because I hadn’t looked. Then, as now, the economy was hostile to those entering the work force with a freshly minted degree. The U.S. was wrapping up the week-long first war in the Iraqi Gulf, and, the same set of assclowns that manufactured nine-eleven were in office under George Bush the First.
Suffice it to say, it was not an opportune time to be looking for a job with education as the only quiver in the quill. If only I had more work experience and better connections with the higher ups, then I might have been able to snag the ever elusive, corporate, well-paying job with kick-ass benefits, or so I thought. Instead, then, as now, I did the best I could with what I had to work with and took the only thing I could find at the time. I worked long hours for very low pay and zero benefits, but I was OK with it because, again, I thought the circumstances were temporary.
Fast-forward through two decades worth of living in a country whose Congressional representatives never met an industry that it couldn’t enable the offshoring or outsourcing of quickly enough or import the highest number of guest workers to drive down wages exponentially, combined with soul crushing loan and credit card debt, smashed cars, and ever-stratospheric taxes and personal living expenses on wages that have been stagnant since the early 70s, and, I can tell you right here and now that had I known that the distortions and obfuscation of reality that is foisted upon the public and sold as the so called American Dream was built upon a house of cards, I wouldn’t have bought into it the first place.
In fact, I probably could have gone the other direction and made quite the lucrative living as a white collar criminal for all the good going to college ever did. But, as ever, hindsight is always 20/20. We’re all bubbling fonts spewing tsunamis of Zen-like wisdumb after the fact. And while I no longer think that my current situation is temporary, surprisingly, I’m OK with it. That’s just how I roll these days. Economic PTSD in these United States of, by and for the 1% has a way of making some of the 99% not give too much of a damn about much of anything.
Today, I’m still taking the bus and riding my bike on a regular basis because guess what. I’m still broke. Actually, I’m brokER than I ever was as a student despite my college degree, various professional certifications and decades of work history, but I no longer feel ashamed or downtrodden to have to ride the bus. Actually, I rather enjoy it. Taking the bus is a kind of freedom that as an impressionable and naïve youth I was not sufficiently mature to realize was there mostly because I was too busy buying the lies packaged by the oligarchy as truth.
The average, hardworking American does not see it, but we are slaves to our possessions. And the pricier the item, the more loath we are to admit that ownership is more of a liability rather than a benefit, especially given that the great bulk of income growth has been funneled upwards to the so called job creators, instead of the people doing the work. Surprise, surprise, that “trickle down” theory we keep hearing about has more to do with bodily fluids being poured on our heads rather than wages.
I can think of few other experiences as tyrannical as owning a personal vehicle. But unless you’ve unshackled yourself from the indentured servitude of a monthly car payment, insurance, taxes, government regulations, gasoline and cost of routine maintenance, you will probably have the same thoughts I did last summer when the totalling of my vehicle by a red light runner rendered me car-less.
For sure, at first you’ll be afraid and almost paralyzed; You’ll start thinking you could never live without a car by your side. But then you’ll spend so many nights thinking how it did you wrong and you’ll survive; You’ll grow strong and learn how to get along.
Long story short, where there’s a will, there’s always a way. And if you’re not careful, it might even be fun to go bussin’ and bikin’. Once you realize that you are no longer enslaved by ongoing mechanical and regulatory expenditures, or even the oil companies, you might even be prone to bouts of absolute giddiness. Frankly, I find myself giggling uncontrollably each time I roll past a gas station.
True, the bus still runs on the stuff, but regardless of whether the price for a gallon jumps arrow up thanks to Wall Street speculation or industry negligence such as the recent refinery fire in Richmond, California, you won’t feel it as acutely. Your fingers will be snapping and your toes still tapping because bus fares remain relatively static over time. And if you qualify for a reduced fare, then the savings are even better. And that, in a nutshell, is the beauty of taking public transportation.
Update as of 7-Oct-2012
Gas in California is a heartbeat away from being $6/gallon. You can check fuel prices in your local area courtesy of 3A here.
Check out the American Public Transportation Association’s gateway for your area here.
©2012 Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.