Two weeks ago, I time travelled back to my pre-driver’s license years.
Technically, I am still 18 years old and legally able to drive a car.
But in order to get to and from UBC Okanagan, I have forged a friendship with Kelowna’s transit system, and consequently experienced feelings and frustrations that I have not encountered since I was 15.
Let’s face it, taking the bus is not anybody’s ideal.
Even in a perfect world, where buses are always on time and the interior temperatures don’t cause you to flood the bus with your sweat, there are still certain unchangeable and unenjoyable aspects of public transit.
But many of these difficulties are not unique to taking the bus.
Learning how to deal with them will not only make your bus rides more pleasant, but will also help you deal with similar day-to-day situations.
The first challenge sometimes occurs the moment you step on the bus—the bus driver.
I can understand why a bus driver may ask me to dispose of my messy food or take my feet off a seat, but sometimes I just want to tell them that they hurt my feelings and ask them to rephrase their command in a nicer way. But I don’t think that would go over so well.
What we often don’t realize, though, is the reality that the driver may have encountered his own difficulties before our entrance on the bus.
I happened to overhear a conversation between two bus drivers the other day, as one of them told the other about a regular seven-hour shift he used to have that had no breaks whatsoever.
Once you imagine doing the same thing at your own job, it becomes easier to understand why the bus driver may not be in the most cheerful mood.
In the same way, the people we come into contact with in life—whether baristas or customers or friends of friends—all have a story that we do not know about.
This is not necessarily an excuse for all types of behaviour, but instead, a reason for each of us to treat others with kindness.
I find this principle difficult not only with those who are rude or cranky, but even with those who are simply different from myself.
When a large group of strangers pile into the same bus, there will inevitably be some interesting characters—the guy with headphones that function more like speakers to broadcast his annoying music, the person unknowingly shoving their backpack in your face…the list goes on.
Asking for the backpack to be taken off your face is certainly a reasonable request, but when making requests, we should still exert a level of courtesy.
And to rephrase a common saying: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, just listen to your iPod.”
Going iPod-less may take more patience, but for myself, it gives me opportunity to catch up on homework and readings.
And if I can learn the art of being understanding and kind to others, maybe taking the bus won’t be so bad after all.
Amber Krogel is in her first year attending UBC Okanagan studying international relations.