The Wenches have been without wheels for about 5 weeks now. Wing Nut says it's only 5, but I think it's more like 8--feels that long anyway. Our 12 year old Saturn, Melissa, was totaled in a car accident. Nobody was injured, and for this we are most thankful. Melissa saw our family through some major life changes. She had 130,000 miles on her and she was leaking oil badly. She was definitely not long for this world. But, we still had hopes that she'd hang on for a little longer. Things are mighty tight financially for us right now. Neither one of us knows if we'll have a job come next month. A new car is definitely not in any crystal ball we've gazed into. And finding a used car that meets our demanding criteria is proving to be quite a challenge.
Being without wheels has caused much stress, tension, unhappiness and frustration in our house. There has even been quite a bit of snarling, hissing and growling--and it hasn't been coming from the tortie! Not having wheels means a lot more walking and way more riding the bus. It's an inconvenience, a major pain in the patootie, and it really, really sucks!!!
You might think that it's the curmudgeon who has been doing the complaining. But in this case you would be mistaken. I'm legally blind so no driving for me. No, the wench doing the complaining in this case is Wing Nut. In her defense, she has been behind the wheel since she was sixteen. She grew up in the middle of nowhere PA where the extent of public transportation was the yellow school bus. I can understand how Wing Nut feels about this new car-less situation. For one year--and one year only--I lived in the middle of nowhere Iowa, in a town that had absolutely no public transportation system. I recall doing quite a bit of cursing in the middle of that northern Iowa winter. It was a major life bummer to find myself without my usual means of getting around. So I do empathize with Wing Nut and recognize that finding herself without her wheels requires a huge attitude adjustment.
The things that bother Wing Nut about taking public transportation are things that I never really stopped to think about. The bus is never on schedule--usually it's late and occasionally it's early, but it's never ON TIME. You have to wait for the bus in the rain and wind and cold. When you get off the bus you are never where you want to go -- you have to walk from the stop to your destination and this can be anywhere from a short walk to a not so short walk. Climate control is not something that is highly valued on busses. Bus drivers and passengers run the gamut from friendly and polite to downright scary. I guess if I did stop to think about it, I might conclude that riding the bus is not a very enjoyable experience. But I can't afford that luxury.
I have a very different view of public transportation. The bus allows me to be gainfully employed. It allows me to keep myself fed, clothed and healthy. It lets me get to the park or the library or the museum. I can even take Diva Dog with me on the bus here in Seattle even though she is not a guide dog. Heck, if I was a hard-drinking wench I could even stay out at the bars till closing time and still get home via the bus. My quality of life is highly dependent on the availability of public transportation. But it goes much deeper for me. My sense of self-worth depends on it too. As long as I have access to public transportation I do not feel that I am a burden to my family or friends or society. The bus is my ticket to freedom and independence.
Today I received a sign that Wing Nut is making huge strides in adjusting her attitude. This morning we had to run a couple of quick errands. We'd forgotten to get wax paper yesterday when we were at the grocery store. And we needed cotter pins at the local hardware store. We hopped on the bus and got our errands done in no time flat. Wing Nut even seemed quite chipper to be taking the bus. Then, as we were walking home from the bus stop, Wing Nut nonchalantly said, "Hey look, my bus transfer is good until 3:30 p.m. I think I'll hop the bus after lunch and go to downtown Ballard." My brain overloaded. It just couldn't handle the cognitive dissonance. She looked and sounded like Wing Nut, but someone must have switched her out. "Who ARE you? The Wing Nut I know, and love dearly, would NEVER voluntarily take the bus--for no good reason, just because she can, just because she wants to get the most out of her bus transfer. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY WING NUT?" Try as I might, I couldn't get the thoughts whirling inside my head to make their way out my mouth. I am rarely caught speechless, but this was one of those occasions.
After lunch Wing Nut did indeed take the bus and strolled around Ballard for a while. She seems no worse for all that bus riding.