It's 5:15 am in Alabama. I'm on I-65 headed to Montgomery for a day spent with my cousin that I never get to see because she lives in Virginia, and is only in town for one more day. The blessings that have come my way this day are all due to a blue light under a seat in front of me. I am blogging while riding on a Greyhound Bus from Mobile to Montgomery.
Going by bus wasn't my first choice. I called rental places and was all set to rent a midsize car when I found out that I'd need a credit card and proof of income (oops, neither) or a utility bill in my name (oops, not that either, as I live in a house that is owned by an elderly woman and I don't have anything in my name).
If that young man had not turned in front of me in October or whenever it was, I'd still be driving my son's Volvo as I really loved that S70. But it's scrap metal now. No one was injured, and no one went to jail, I hope. The young man who was driving uninsured had his own problems living in this state as a young black father of two, trying to do the right thing, trying to get his little girl in a good school, and trying to get his job back after having cancer.
I felt sorry for him. Believe me I know how many shitty tickets life can hand you. And he did me a favor.
I don't have a car. I live near a bus stop in a city in Alabama that has pretty miserable public transportation, and I ride a 1972 Western Flyer around town, to Walmart, Michaels, and sometimes to the downtown market ( I missed the Tour de Koop yesterday sadly.) I'm a member of MOB, Mobilians on Bikes. We have a facebook page. Check it out.
Next week there is a bike tour of some towntown gardens. I'm planning to go.
Today, however, I'm travelling to Montgomery, for the day. For $44 plus cab fare. I don't see how that could be any better. I'm spending the day with my cousins, going to the church where my uncle was the preacher for 35 years, and then returning home in time to feed the cats and let them all know I didn't leave forever.
Not that they'd suffer. They are pampered. But they knew something was up when I went to bed at 8 last night. And I've got a friend that will check on them if I start worrying, but I don't think they'll even miss me all that much.
And having my internet access while I'm traveling is wonderful.
Traveling this road, from Mobile to Montgomery, is a part of my life that I've written about in my stories. I can recall trips to Granny's house from Fairhope when I was seven or eight, and there was no interstate.
And I can recall train rides from Mobile to Montgomery. I never took the bus to Opelika, where my mother's mother lived, but I did take the bus to Columbia, Mississippi often, starting when I was very young. My parents would put my sister and me on the bus, and my grandmother would get us on the other end. We were watched over by the bus driver and I have never forgotten that. I can recall bus rides I've taken that were not as pleasant, and other transit rides in my younger years, but the fact is that the only time I ride a bus now is to the USA football games. And that's got to change.
I'm going to become public transportation savvy. I can see this.
I didn't know how much my life would change when I learned how wonderful it would be to live carless.
I really can't see myself owning a car again. The yellow cab company is two blocks away, (I actually called them twice to move my stuff to the house I'm in now, and by some clever horsetrading I didn't have to rent a truck at all)
And this bus is pretty damn comfortable. I'm probably keeping someone awake by my laptop screen lights but I hope not. It sounds pretty peaceful and even the little two year old seems to have calmed down for a nap. Maybe when she gets up she'll come sit with me and I'll show her something online.
How cool is this? I could be driving up the highway by myself, spending gas money, (round trip to Montgomery usually would take about a tank) as I recall. And with a ten year old car there are other things to worry about. My sons both work in Birmingham and I really would love to be able to see them both but the cost has been prohibitive. Well, guess what, guys. This is my new favorite thing.
I'll be checking out rates, routes, and making trip plans now. And I can do that as I travel. I bought my tickets online and saved money. The staff in the station were great, friendly, polite, and interesting. The cab company that picked me up is going to have to learn the meaning of promptness even at 3 am, and that won't be hard to do.
Hell, maybe I'll even start driving a cab for them. Nah, I am still more interested in living my live the way I like living it.
I am focused on one idea for the next few decades of my life. Autonomy. That's it. That's all I have ever wanted. It's been tough, until now. I had always depended on someone else for security. Now, thanks to social security, I may be able to find that autonomy.
I can't live on social security alone. I know that. But I can, if the world will ever catch up to the visions I've had for a long time, earn a living doing what I do best.
Here's something I noticed this morning. I walked into that waiting area in the bus station and I thought it was my stage. Seriously, I felt like everyone in there was someone I might talk to, even though many seemed to be hispanic or some other nationality. I couldn't tell by looking at them but I could hear different languages spoken. And I recalled my father's third wife, a hispanic woman herself, saying that my father talked to everyone no matter where they were. That's true, and I have always been like that as well.
Everyone needs self-esteem, and a feeling of autonomy. People don't need to feel that they are under suspicion, they don't need to fear that they will be misjudged, and they sure as hell don't need to be stereotyped.
I had never been on one of these new buses before. I immediately saw the big wide seat near the exit, thought of my airplane days and gravitated to that seat. Then I started thinking that something was wrong with what I had done. I looked around, and noticed that the seat had a handicapped marker on the window next to it. I looked across the aisle and realized that there were designated handicapped seats and about the same time, a very large woman came down the aisle and stopped at the row where I was sitting. I looked at her, and said, "Would you like to sit here?"
That would be nice, she said quietly. I moved back to another seat, and when I did, I also got my bearings a bit more, and realized that these buses are well designed for the modern traveler. There are two outlet plugs in front of me, pockets for my book or a smaller laptop, and a pocket for my drink, an armrest and comfortable seats and a seatbelt.
I looked at that outlet. I stared at it. Wow, I thought, I didn't need to run around today trying to find a place to buy a new battery for this laptop (an old one I bought at a yard sale after my newer one was stolen by a neighborhood kid).
I had no idea there would be plugs in the back of the seats. What other wonders await me as I discover a different way to travel? I would love to hear from you guys about traveling via train, bus, etc.
I am working with a man next door who is 93, and has seriously impaired hearing. He's so intelligent that I have been trying to find ways to make his world more accessible as his knees give out and his diabetes makes his feet hurt. He has some great doctors and I'm pleased that the younger dermatologist he's seeing now sends him home with all sorts of information on what they are doing. My concern is that he could be getting so much better treatment if he could interact with the medical profession instead of being seen as an elderly person who doesn't understand technology. This man is a working engineer. At 93. He still gets called in to work because he is the only one who can do certain things. He would benefit from a Telikiin if I could get him to part with the money, but he wants to SEE one first.
I'm working on him. Text has to be large enough to see, and he needs speech recognition for sure. But the thing I like best about the Telikin is their tech buddy concept. I've had so many people who have struggled with computers and they just expect me to show up and fix things, but the tech buddy is even better. You can actually log in through their site and access their computer remotely which I'm sure lots of you guys know how to do. But with Tech Buddy, any nephew, sister, son or daughter can do that for an older person. This is a cool idea.
Anyway, the sun is coming up, and I can see the trees. I'm gonna post this, and see what the day brings.