Perhaps my viewpoint is colored by romantic notions of the way things once were. Or, maybe my perspective is influenced by a combination of respect and guilt. Guilt that the privileged among us are allowing a way of life for people on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder to be unceremoniously stripped away. Regardless of what drives my point of view, I feel a sense of emptiness and loss when I learn that the gentry, of which I embarrassingly am a part, is choking off the oxygen for intercity bus transportation. People in my socio-economic class generally seem unconcerned that the bus system that allows people, especially low-income people, to travel is being dismantled in favor of giving the well-to-do more unnecessary luxuries. Those in my economic stratum hardly ever give intercity bus transportation a passing thought. When they very rarely consider travel by bus, they tend to think that mode of travel is beneath them; bus travel, they seem to believe, is for poverty-stricken people whose lifestyles contribute to their unbreakable cycle of poverty. Most of them—us—will not acknowledge our contempt or pity or simple distaste for people who populate the lower socio-economic strata. But it is there, just as sure as bus stations are disappearing, replaced by inner-city gentrification. And, of course, recent political stunts, which use buses to transport undocumented immigrants to places far from the southern border, tend to equate bus transportation with the “riff-raff.”
There was a time, not so very long ago, when travel by bus was perfectly legitimate. Taking a Greyhound bus from Corpus Christi to Dallas was an adventure. The mix of passengers exposed riders to all manner of ideas and attitudes and cultures. Over time, though, bus travel has been relegated mostly to the poor. The unkempt. The suspicious. The potentially dangerous. No matter how hard the gentry tries to object to being labeled elitist for attitudes about motor coaches and bus travelers, the perceptions are there. Sometimes hidden, sometimes overt.
I do not remember where, very early this morning, I read about the demise of so many inner-city bus stations. But I remember feelings of anger and guilt and embarrassment welling up inside me while reading the article. The disappearance of amenities for bus travelers does not impact me directly, so I can safely dismiss the issue. But that, of course, is absurd. Sweeping poverty aside and eliminating services for the poor tears at the very fabric of social decency. We are watching, dispassionately, as a sharply-defined caste system is being constructed, polished, and memorialized in our culture. I hate what is happening to us, with our permission and, in too many cases, our encouragement. This stream-of-consciousness expression is incomplete because the more I think of how we, collectively, view the less fortunate among us, the angrier I get. And my anger severs my own thoughts into disconnected threads. And I just stew in my own juices, accomplishing nothing, as I wander aimlessly through a convoluted web of disappointment and shame. Ach.
Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.
~ Hannah Arendt ~
I was reasonably energetic yesterday morning. I went to church to hear a very well-conceived and professionally-delivered presentation about preparing one’s home, auto, and thought processes for emergency situations. And then we went to lunch with a large group from church—sixteen or so of us. I had three margaritas on the rocks during lunch; they were exceptionally tasty. But in hindsight, I should have skipped them. Whether it was the margaritas or some ongoing fatigue associated with chemo, etc., I was very, very tired by 3 pm, when I decided to take a nap. The nap lasted until 7. I stayed up for two hours; back in bed at 9 for the duration. I got up today just before 4; fed the cat, measured and recorded my vital signs, etc., prepared an agenda packet for a board meeting later this week, and skimmed the news and some other informational websites. And I’ve done several of the exercises the physical therapist recommended I do three times a day. My energy, though, has not rebounded completely. It’s now 6:30 and I am tired; could sleep soundly, I think, for another 3 or 4 hours. But I can’t, because I have a post-hospitalization follow-up appointment with my primary care physician at 9:30. Ach, again. Oh well.
34°F. So says the computer’s link to a local weather app. That is more than a little brisk, but the forecast high today at 59°F will be tolerable, provided the sun is shining and I am suitably dressed. At the moment, I am not suitably dressed; flip-flops, sweatshirt, and a pair of sweatpants that are a shade too short. I desperately need some new jeans that are neither too loose (like all the ones I have now, which can drop to the floor at the most inopportune times) nor too tight. If I could have a pair of jeans custom made for me, I would have the tailor use a slightly stretchy fabric. And the pattern he or she uses would have to account for the fact that I have no butt to speak of. And the jeans would have slightly tapered legs. And the legs would be short enough so that the cloth doesn’t “pool” around my ankles, making me look like I cannot dress myself properly. Yeah, that’s the ticket. A $850 pair of tailored jeans. What a positively delightful way to spend my money. Okay, maybe not.
I may have said this a thousand times before. I love hugs, both to get and to give. I am especially pleased when I get a very tight, long-lasting hug. I got one of those yesterday. It was delightful! Except for the fact that the hug took place in a very public place, I might have urged the hugger to give me an additional thirty minutes. Who knows, that might have cured my cancer…and made me stronger and taller and better looking…improved my singing voice…eliminated the cowlick in my hair…etc. Physical embraces can have a positive impact on one’s emotional state of mind. And they can generate a sense of well-being and general joy. The trouble with many embraces, though, is their duration; they are too brief. That brevity can make a person feel like he is walking on a loose emotional tightrope that could give way at any moment. But even short ones are better than none at all; the absence of hugs can make a person remember, moments after jumping from the belly of a plane, that he has forgotten his parachute. Okay, that’s a touch too dramatic. Drama, though, gets the blood pumping and makes one feel giddy and slightly terrified. “Slightly terrified?” I don’t think so. Time to stop this wandering and have some breakfast; yesterday’s lunch leftovers. Day-old shrimp on a bed of congealed cheese and rice. Perhaps I should heat it; might improve both flavor and texture. To you who has gotten this far, I wish you a wonderful day. To the rest of you…the same.