How Politics Could Learn From An Hour Commute On The Muni
Let's face it — a long commute gives you time to think, to think deeply about issues and topics you would otherwise not.
In the sad state of our political climate right now, one asks, how do we make this better? While sitting on Muni, I made parallels between the two. Commuting and politics no wonder.
If you're someone like me, I have to get across town on two buses that are always jam-packed. People bumping into each other at every stop, seats being given up, fights breaking out at the driver, and even the transient weirdo hoping to catch a lift. It's not hard to create aspects of today's reality in a moving tuna can. We start and stop at every pick up and even have to make the emergency pull over for those who've missed their designated stop. Muni is a dance I haven't quite mastered yet. And as I look at the politic structure of today's America -- it leads me to believe that they can learn a thing or two about this dance.
Start with the front door, a ball buster to most who avidly avoid paying their "fare share." Think teenagers and young adults, they try to take the rear entrance, as most has seen in this recent election. Bodies cram the entrance and exit front to back, leaving zero foot room. But you manage to make it work, finding a nook or cranny that will support your body weight. As the bus starts to get even more crowd, you venture yourself to the back of the bus where some to most have lost even more than the ones who sit in first class. These are the people who avoid using a clipper and nearly never have cash to walk in the front door — yet, we lose sight of these people and dither to focusing on these who sit in Delta front lounge.
As the car makes sudden and usually to jerky of stops, we all come together to say "sorry" and "excuse me" as if we personally slammed our bodies together. No, we just look at each other smile and laugh. What just had occurred was funny. Nudging shoulders is a commonality in tight spaces that most overlook, boundaries go completely out the window.
When it's time to let our fellow neighbor off the bus, we immediately make way and a path for those trying to get off. Our fight or flight response avidly seeks to get out of the way for those who barrel through with no remorse. We will exit the bus while holding onto the door handle to ensure that we will, for sure, make it back on. Other riders aren't shy, they will keep the door open for one another to make sure that no one is left behind. It's people helping people during a busy and clustered time.
And as you get your stop, you plan out how to escape successfully without causing a mess but in the end you know that any move you make will have the people around you aware. You muster up the guts and proceed to move about, people skimming the wall to make sure you get out. You slide in and out of the lane like a serpent — making no physical contact.
But everyday, you take the same route at the same time and get dropped off at the same place. You're following the scheduled cycle and building a repertoire. You have the apps on your phone that tell you the next stop, the next destination, the height of traffic—all things so accessible. You're in the know whether you want to be or not.
Now listen, politics and buses have no correlation but resemblances can be mirrored. Whether we hate popping into the politic news stream or have a cardio workout built around swimming up it, a big takeaway is about being aware. You have every right to tune it out, plug in your headphones, and ghost but as the overhead MUNI warning says, "Keep your eyes up and phone down while riding MUNI," or should I say...