West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
My Life on the Bus Route
by Mikeshia Lewin
Riding the bus and dreaming of a car…
In elementary school, riding the school bus was natural to me. Wake up, eat breakfast, wait patiently with the other children, board the bus and find a seat. With little to no complaints, I followed that routine for nine faithful years.
Sitting on the bus during my junior year, I noticed the thinning senior population on my bus. They had gotten the memo: leave the bus behind. As I saw them pick up their backpacks from the snack-strewn floor for the last time, I thought, “Next year I’ll never have to sit on this roach-infested bus again.” I figured if I worked enough I would have half of the money necessary for a decent buggy.
It was summer, and I faced the realities of a law-abiding company. I didn’t work the hectic hours my peers endured in fast food joints. My measly check was hardly enough to buy a box of pizza, let alone a car. However, I was determined. My reputation depended on it. Searching county-wide, I would eagerly write down the phone number of a prospective car and jot down the price. It was hard to shake down my mother for money when I didn’t have a legal license to reverse a car, but I figured that looking at prices was the first step to becoming an independent young adult.
Suddenly, looking at the price of cars became a complicated process. The configuration of the vehicle was one thing—Japanese or American manufactured? Then I had to consider mileage and stability, two doors or four, Jiffy or Michelin? The thoughts never stopped.
Sooner than I anticipated, school was back in session and I was riding on the bus for the tenth year in a row. It wasn’t too bad. My friends were in similar situations, so we kept one another’s company with dry jokes and early morning sarcasm. But the overstuffed seats laughed at me as I made my way through the narrow aisle. I couldn’t escape its profanity-littered blue pleather. But with time, I came to terms with it. Partially because my friends paid ridiculously high insurance and gas prices, and partially because I was just too broke to care. I’ll keep this mentality for four more years. Life as a struggling college kid will be rough and although I will leave the big yellow bus behind, the grey public transit will be my new buddy.