Day 11: “I Don’t Ride in a Car Anymore”

Day 11 (Monday 10/15)

A very rainy Sunday evening saw Wiley and I in the living room, bent over our calendars.  We were figuring out the week’s schedule: exercise, kid pickup, birthday parties and soccer games and date night.  For the month of October, my Mondays look like this: put Caleb on the school bus, drop Helen at preschool, get myself to Greenwood and carpool to and from Burien to tutor, then get home with a bit of time to spare before Caleb’s school bus pulls up at the end of our block.

I’ve been doing everything but the 20 miles between Greenwood and Burien on my bike.  But, even though I said I was ready for bike commuting in the rain, I’m not entirely.  I don’t want to leave Helen’s bike trailer in the rain all day at preschool.  And, although biking in the rain is a common activity for me, I’m used to getting soaked and then coming home to a warm shower and dry clothes at the end of the ride.  Tutoring is a five-hour affair, and needs to be done with dry clothes.  So, I either need to bring a change of clothes in my pack, or wear rain pants and broil on the ride up the hill.  I know that this is a conundrum real bike commuters with real offices

I look up from my phone calendar at Wiley.

“I think I’ll take the bus tomorrow.”

The only downside is that my ride to Greenwood is a nice way to get in my exercise.  Wiley kindly puts my bike on our bike trainer so that I can try and fit in a “basement ride” sometime on Monday. It turns out that Monday morning is cloudy but dry, but there’s not time to rearrange plans. So we bus. I have great bus karma, walking up to the bus stop just as the bus is pulling up both times.  Helen has a huge grin on her face while we ride, like she’s on an amusement park ride.  I suppose the city bus is as fun as a roller coaster to a three-year-old.  The other day Helen said to me “I don’t ride in a car anymore.”  I asked her if she liked riding in the bike trailer and she said “Yes!  I want to do it forever and ever.”

The bus is a great place for conversations, both the ones I have and the ones I eavesdrop on.  Public transportation is a great place for a writer to gather material.  I don’t know if it’s because I put out a bartender/therapist vibe, or if it’s something about sitting in a vehicle with nothing to do, not even drive, but people always seem to want to talk to me on the bus. After I’ve dropped Helen off, I walk up the hill to take the number five bus.  In the time between the bus pulling up at the stop through the first two minutes of the ride, I learn that the guy sitting next to me missed the previous bus, is riding home from his friend’s house in Fremont, where he spent the night, to his house, on 125th Street, to go home and take a shower before he gets back on the bus to ride to school in Shoreline.  He seems exhausted at the thought of all that bussing, especially since he missed the first bus and is now running late.  I decide against evangelizing about the benefits of the bus/bike commute.  It’s only 9:00 am, and if he’s that tired just from bus riding, he’s probably not going to go for it.

One of the tutors drops me in my neighborhood, and after getting home I still have 30 minutes before Caleb’s bus arrives.  I ride the bike trainer in the basement, a good reminder that biking outside – in the rain, in the cold, even in traffic – is preferable to this.  But just wait until we put a DVD player down there.  Then you won’t be able to get me off that thing.

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