Today on my way to work a woman sat next to me. "You're lucky you can read on the bus," she said. "If I read on the bus I get sick." She takes a book along to read between buses, she explained, but she's left to watch the scenery once the bus starts.
I'm on my 30th book since I started riding buses and light rail to work in February. The big reason why I'm willing to lengthen my commute from an average of about a half-hour to more than an hour is the time it provides for reading. Yes, it is also more relaxing than driving and certainly less stressful, but the ability to read books is the real selling point. Reading is not easy for me. I have to work at it. Before I started taking transit to work I might read a couple of books a year, but never as many as I wanted. It was simply too difficult to carve out time after work.
This morning I was having trouble reading my book. It doesn't help that I'm reading a 600-plus page hardback. The thing is unwieldy and heavy. But something else was up, something with my eyes. I'm hoping it is just something leftover from the eye exam yesterday. The doctor said my eyes are fine, or at least correctable.
Of course, my real fear is that reading on the bus will cause me to go blind. Or grow hair on the palm of my hand.
When I was a child I couldn't read in a car without getting carsick. But I could eat chocolate. Now I can't eat chocolate without feeling nauseous. But I can read on the bus. I consider that a fair trade, although I have friends who think a life without chocolate would be unendurable.
I don't know what I would do if I couldn't read on the bus.