Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mass Transit in New York City

In all the years I've lived in NYC, I've not traveled by bus as often as I have in recent weeks since I began teaching Adult Basic Education at Union Settlement in Spanish Harlem.

I usually walk across Central Park, down Fifth Avenue, and then onto East 104th Street. I had a change of heart recently when the temperature dropped well below freezing, and the thought of imitating a mime walking against the wind wasn't appealing.

For the past three or four weeknights, the bus I take at 5:50 p.m., has not arrived on time, and I've had to walk my regular route. I'm not complaining about walking, my intention was to use the two-way trip as exercise. A simple thing as the driver adhering to his schedule (I've seen few female bus drivers) irked me while standing at the bus stop as others passed me by.

I can now say that the eastbound evening M3 and M4 buses are worse than the downtown C or 1 train. Anyone uptown heading downtown on either of these two lines should expect a wait and plan accordingly.

My brisk walk across Central Park North cleared thoughts of pointing a shoulder-launched missile at a series of tardy bus drivers. (Wouldn't want to annihilate innocent passengers even if they were the cause of the delay.) I saw various shades of red as I cursed the drivers and anyone else involved in my having to walk to class when I clearly intended to ride across the park.

I wondered if affluent people dealt with similar delays. I think not. A rich person wouldn't ride a city bus, but might take a leisurely stroll through Central Park, not bolt across the north end of the park like a child that's had too much caffeine or chocolate (as I imagined I might have looked as I fussed and rebuked the driver responsible).

I hopped on a downtown bus on Fifth Avenue -- I was determined to ride a bus even if it was for a few blocks to satisfy something within me. Was I feeling grand and entitled earlier tonight? Did I flashback to Morgan Freeman opening the door for Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy? Maybe, maybe not.

I was definitely cross about something, but couldn't put my finger on it. I arrived to class late and was asked why I'd shown up when all other instructors had the week off due to something, other, or another with the New York City School System and the DOE.

The two students who made it to class tonight and I analyzed poetry and how to recognize and repair sentence fragments after I ranted about the differences between my schooling down south and the chaos in place here in NYC.
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I don't aspire to be rich, but definitely want to be able to take a yellow cab without wincing at the ever-increasing base rate on the meter, or take a towncar instead of the bus or subway for a night out on the town.

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