February 24th, 2007

activism

riding the bus

I have this great idea for after I move downtown: riding the bus! it's part of this image i have of living downtown and being a Girl Of The City. Right now I spend $80-120 a month on gas for my car. A bus pass is $60 a month, if I really dedicate to the idea, and of course I can get day passes or multi-ride passes while I'm just testing it out.

I will be living two blocks from the city's main transit center. there's a bus that can take me from there to work pretty easily, and another that can take me from there to WSU... obviously going from work to WSU will be a distant, not-this-semester kind of goal, I'll call that "intermediate" bussing. Marc is all about the idea though and has promised to bus around the city with me some Saturday so I learn the system. There aren't many bus *stops* in Wichita... for example, there's not one by where I work, but he says that Wichita bus drivers will stop anywhere along the route that people are waving at them because not enough people use the system to justify strictness.

Of course my ultimate dream in life would be to live in a city with actual public transportation, not 15-route bus system, but I think this will be an adventure in the right direction! It will also expose me to something that my background hasn't really shown me yet... I grew up in the nice clean suburbs, miles away from stores, where everyone owned an SUV. It's a class thing! There's a sex & the city episode where carrie needs to save money so she gets in line for the bus, and has no idea that they're so cheap, and all the normal people in line with her are annoyed with so naive she is, I don't want to be that girl!

I've always been a little bothered by the idea that I'm part of this upper-middle class. I mean, I've used it to my advantage, definitely, and I'm really thankful for it, but I don't want to be all "let them eat cake" about it. When I was in high school in Overland Park, Kansas I remember hearing on the news that they were talking about raising the minimum wage, and I couldn't understand why, I mean, even the kids at my school with mcdonald's jobs made $8 an hour. I thought no one made minimum wage. Then I moved to Pittsburg and learned very differently. Then I moved to Wichita, which is small enough that I'm not 45 minutes away from the nearest homeless person anymore. Wichita is not a violent, dangerous place. There's a shooting maybe once a week and it's all over the news. But it's poor. There are a lot of tiny run down houses for rent in sketchy areas. Lots of pawn shops and thrift stores and check cashing places.

We want to separate ourselves... move out to the suburbs, away from the poor people, build highways around the city so we don't have to drive through it and see the abandoned buildings, and I feel like that whole philosophy contradicts everything I want to fight for. Feminism is about fighting for poor women. Gay rights is about fighting for AIDS victims whose every resource has to go towards health care. And I'm not saying that riding the bus is going to give me this incredible perspective on socio-economic issues or anything, I'm just saying that I see it as one more thing that I've never done because I've never had to, and I feel like I'm a better person every time that list gets a little bit shorter.