There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Half an anniversary

Traffic badminton. Among spectator sports its closest cousin would be crowd watching from a bench at the mall, only less intense.

Standing at the curb waiting for my bus, I watch a shuttlecock as it crosses in front of me and flies into the distance and then watch as another shuttlecock makes the return trip. Left, right, left, right, back and forth, back and forth.

I watch the people encapsulated in the shuttlecocks, swatted into motion by the hidden forces that propel morning commuters out of their beds and off to work.

This is my half anniversary. I've been watching traffic badminton now for six months. That's 3 1/2 dog years.

I can't imagine going back to solo commuting. Not only am I more relaxed when I arrive at work, but I ha
ve read 17 books while riding Sacramento Regional Transit buses and light rail. I would like to find a way to convince more people of the joys of riding transit to work.

This morning I watched a man attempt to read the newspaper while he drove his car. He had his left hand on the wheel and was holding the paper in his right. In the brief time he crossed my path, the guy took his hand off the wheel so he could turn the page, then looked up at the road and then down at the paper, returning his left hand to the wheel. I waited for the sound of the collision at the all-way stop in the distance, but apparently he made it through the intersection without incident.

I wanted to tap on the glass and suggest to the guy that he could do all the reading he wants riding a bus to work and not endanger a single person with his reckless disregard for proper vehicle operation.

Instead I boarded my bus and had a very uneventful commute to work.


ByJane said...

I'd do it, but from Elk Grove? How long would it take me to get any or everywhere?????

John said...

Ah, Elk Grove! Yes, the town that said it didn't need no stinking regional transit. Nah, we'll build our own bus line, they said.

Still, if you work downtown, there are options. RT has a beta site that attempts to work out the connections among the various transit systems. The web site is

But let me be frank (John can be sooo boring): Regional Transit pretty much sucks if you don't work downtown. And that's not going to get any better as long as people like the governor think powering a traffic jam with bio-diesel is a better alternative than encouraging people to leave their cars at home and ride buses and light rail.

Queen of Dysfunction said...

Hmmm... I wonder what this would look like with an actual shuttlecock over real traffic?

John said...

Well, let's see. Commuting in real shuttlecocks. We would need to use the old fashioned cork nose and feather tail variety. It would be difficult to decide whether to face forward -- best when being launched -- or face the rear -- best when landing.

For optimum propulsion, I would suggest giants from the Harry Potter books. (Sorry, can't recall which country they live in.) If the giants can't be convinced, then I would harness the power of 3-year-olds on a sugar high. The problem with toddler sugar power is its unpredictability. They are apt to suddenly collapse and go to sleep at unexpected times.