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  • Writer's pictureJenna Beall Mueller

Bus Girl!

For weeks, maybe months, now, I've been saying I need to try taking the bus to and from work.

Logically, I knew Cincinnati's Metro made the most sense for my daily commute.

The bus stop is a five-minute walk from our house. The bus is significantly cheaper than my company's parking garage. The bus is better for the environment. The bus is a safer option when considering my driving skills (subpar) and the potential handicaps my MS could present (loss of vision being the scariest possibility).

In January, I downloaded Metro fare tickets to my phone.

And then, I spent days and days coming up with excuses why I couldn't possibly take the bus, including:

  • It's dark, and my mom is convinced I'm going to be assaulted on my walk to the bus stop. I love listening to Crime Junkies, but I don't want to be the subject of their next episode.

  • I have that early morning meeting and gosh, I just really want to get to my desk extra early and prepare. I can't have the distraction!

  • It's really cold.

  • It's really rainy.

  • Wait, where is the stop exactly?

Most of all, I had all of the anxieties that come with trying something new. Did I have to raise my hand and flag the bus down like a taxi cab? What if I sat in some regular's "spot"? Where would I scan my ticket? What if I took too long figuring out where to scan my ticket, and people grew annoyed with me? What if some curmudgeon of a businessman shouted, "Hurry up, girlie! We've got places to be, deals to seal, and money to make!"

(I imagined this man as the scary father from Elf.)

Well, I'm happy to say that today, I finally took the Metro. And it was nice. Genuinely nice.

Naturally, it was raining this morning, and naturally, I couldn't find a single umbrella. This is especially pathetic considering my mom and aunts recently hosted a "Singing in the Rain" bridal shower, and I came home with three pretty umbrellas. I clearly have no idea where any of them are.

I geared up the audiobook I'm listening to (Maid by Stephanie Land), slid into my rain boots (which have dogs on them!), and zipped up my down coat.

By the time I got to the bus stop, I was soaking wet. My hair had flattened from the drizzle, and I was super sweaty as a result of the too-heavy coat and brisk stroll.

A girl around my age was also waiting for the bus, and this instantly made me feel more comfortable. I resisted the urge to confirm, "Is this the spot for the 2X Madeira Express?" and applauded my self control.

I saw a bus coming and naively activated my bus pass too early. It wasn't the 2X, and the fare expired. Amateur move.

My cousin-in-law then passed with their great, big yellow lab. Seeing the two of them made me happy and forget my lost fare.

And then I saw it: the 2X rolling down Montgomery Road in all its early-morning splendor.

It was time.

Where do I scan my pass? Where do I scan my pass? I carefully watched my Bus Pal Gal climb onboard. Shit. She had a physical pass and hadn't used her phone. She would be of no help to me.

I entered next and hesitantly held my phone above the ticket fare machine, thinking some sort of scan would magically happen.

"You just hold it up, sweetie," the very kind bus driver said, confirming the fare card on my phone screen. She smiled at me.

"Oh! Gosh. Thank you!" I said, gathering my bag and efficiently taking a seat.

I turned my audiobook back on and looked around. No one was mean or intimidating or scary. Some passengers were reading, others were scanning their phones, and some were leaning their heads against the cool windows, enjoying the calm before a bustling workday.

I like this, I immediately thought, settling in.

The bus dropped me off a mere block from work. I was surprised how energized I felt during my day. I don't think I'd realized how much my commute drained me, from navigating the rush-hour traffic to maneuvering my way around my company's very crowded garage, often nearly colliding with bleary-eyed hotel guests.

When I left work this afternoon, I stopped by an art shop and bought myself a Charley Harper umbrella as a small treat. Then, I found my outgoing bus stop and stood proudly among my fellow 2X Madeira Express passengers.

When I pulled on the cord this evening, right outside the Pleasant Ridge Library—where I would steal a few moments before walking home—I felt like a much more confident person.

I'm a bus girl!

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