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Privilegemobile 15: Sober Reflection Because It’s Too Early To Drink

The bus slowed down where it usually does. We were in San Mateo just north of the exit for the bridge. The number of vehicles made the traffic situation bad. The vehicles waiting for the last minute to change lanes made it worse.

I could not see the driver from my seat in the back of the bus. He probably wasn’t letting the traffic upset him. He’s been driving this route for at least as long as I’ve had my job so the morning rush hour is nothing new to him. He also strikes me as being difficult to rankle. I’ve never spoken with him at length. I’m going on brief glimpses of his demeanor repeated hundreds of times.

I am less serene by nature. No one has ever called me an “old soul.” I’m smack dab in the terrible twos as far as souls go. However, the traffic did not bother me either. I’m salaried so my workday starts as soon as I arrive at the office. Delays don’t affect my paycheck.

More importantly, it wasn’t me who had to deal with the other cars. Bay Area drivers are assholes. I should know, having been one of them. It’s been over 13 years since I’ve been behind the wheel. That works for me. Other drivers are none of my concern, even if there is an accident. I won’t be blamed for any collision and there is little worry about getting injured either. Go ahead. T-bone this bus with your Mini Cooper. I don’t give a shit.

I read an article recently about some guy who travels internationally by cargo ship instead of flying. It takes forever and he spends much of the voyage seasick, but it costs next to nothing and he gets some downtime from whatever he does when he’s not bobbing around on a container vessel.

I’m prone to motion sickness, but the idea does sound appealing. I enjoy being in transit unless I’m on an airplane. I have no fear of flying despite being afraid of heights. I like takeoff because it’s fun to haul ass down the runway and I enjoy landing because I can use my smartphone again. It’s the in-between part that sucks. It’s cramped, authoritarian, and the cocktails are undersized and overpriced.

One exception was a flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town I took in 1999. I was in the first row of a 747, a coach seat with both the cockpit and first class above me. Drinks were complimentary and there was plenty of legroom. I drifted off to sleep over the Mediterranean between Italy and Libya. When I awoke, the green rainforest canopy of sub-Saharan Africa spread in all directions. I stretched my legs and yawned, a safe 30,000 feet away from the civil wars and Ebola raging below. Sixteen hours on an airplane would have been unendurable under different circumstances, but there I fully enjoyed myself.

The truth is that I like to keep moving even after I’ve reached my destination. My favorite part of my trip to Bolivia was sitting in the back of a camiĆ³n on a narrow mountain road, the truck’s tires spitting gravel into a deep canyon that eats travelers and shits death. In Europe, long train and bus gave me ample opportunity to lose myself in moments punctuated by signs of places I neither recognized nor could pronounce.

I find a little bit of that joy every day on my commute. I can relax inside my head and it’s civilized. I’m able to bring my coffee on board and fellow riders keep their bodily fluids to themselves or deposit them in the lavatory instead of smearing them all over the seats. In other words, it isn’t Muni.

I don’t buy into the notion that we all have a purpose in life but if I did, I think mine would be being a passenger. I like going places, but I would rather not be responsible for getting there. That would go a long way toward explain my track record with alcohol and substance abuse. It doesn’t make me a bad person. It just means I shouldn’t drive. As long I stay in the passenger seat, I won’t have to.