HOP ON THE BUS GUS

 

If you take the bus, not only is it a better route to the corner of Euclid and East 9th Street -- but its a better spiritual route as well.

 

In Mobile, Alabama they are trying to get all kinds of people to take the bus. Not so much for spiritual reasons, as for common sense ones.

 

As greater Mobile grows, roadways are increasingly getting clogged with traffic, and bad ozone above the city is increasing as well.

 

If more people took buses, well, common sense would say that these things would decrees.

 

And this was one of the subjects at a Transportation Forum put on in Mobile recently. Don Domico, from Fair Hope, Alabama attended the forum.

 

He said it was noted, more than once, that a highly improved area bus transportation system, and in turn, many more people riding the bus, would significantly solve some of Mobiles transportation dilemmas.

 

One problem.

 

It was also noted at the forum that most suburbanites will not take buses until theres a perceptual change about bus riding in general.

 

Namely, its the poor that ride the bus.

 

And Id have to say, currently, thats for the most part right.

 

The family and I just took the #326 Bus into downtown Cleveland. It starts in a far west side suburb and heads east along Detroit Avenue. We got on the bus in Lakewood  after it had already gone through a couple good-sized, well off suburbs.

 

The bus was almost empty when we got on.

 

However as we got closer and closer to Cleveland, the bus started to fill up with, for the most part, what society would consider the marginalized. It filled up with people dressed in mismatched thrift store fashion, old, brown plastic-framed eye wear, dirty baseball caps. A young mother across the isle clutched the handle of a rather worn baby stroller. 

 

A man who smelled like he hadnt had a shower in the last week sat down next to me. He carried a heavy box of glass framed, Cleveland Indian plaques that he told me he sold from street corner to street corner to get by. I asked a bit more about that, had him show my son Joseph one of the plaques, then donated some money to him, not for the plaque (My wife says professional sports are the tool of the devil.), but just to help.

 

He smiled. And you could tell this man, who has to hawk his wares in the face of much rejection, was genuinely touched, not only with this unsolicited donation, but with our family taking the time to get to know him a bit.

 

Whats more, if we had ridden this particular #326 bus more (we happened to just be visiting Lakewood this day), we would have strove to get to know this man even better. And as we did get to know him better, perhaps would have learned a lot more about more ways to help. Maybe he needed money for rent, or even a room in our house. And/or, maybe he needed to further his education or get some mental health counseling, and we could have helped with that. And maybe he needed some caring, long-term friends -- as do many of the poor.

 

My wife Liz, who at one time worked on a public relations campaign to get more people to ride the bus in Wellington, New Zealand, said evoking the perceptual change meant having people think more about the environment, or the fun of riding with other yuppies (young urban professionals) to work, or

 

Whereas I think a better strategy is to appeal to ones sense of: spirituality. For instance, many of the early Christians were inspired to live together, sharing everything in kind, so: no one was in need.

 

So if I want to live the spirit of that Bible passage, do I stay cloistered in my comfortable suburb, and in my comfortable car (spewing greenhouse gases); or do I move out of my comfort zone, get to really know those in need  then help them.

 

And what better way to get to know those in need in America than on the #326.

 

Or as singer Paul Simon would sing:

 

Hop on the bus, Gus.