By Trish Johnston
Growing up in Wilmington, Delaware, and going to college in rural upstate New York, public transit wasn’t a part of my life until I moved to Philadelphia in August. I made the conscious decision to not bring my car with me to the city as a way to get me out of my comfort zone and really force myself to embrace city living. And so for the past six months, I have spent countless hours on SEPTA buses, trains and trolleys. A lot of people living in Philadelphia hate on SEPTA, but I’ve found that (most of the time) it’s not that bad. Many of the experiences I’ve had on public transit serve as reminder of life’s lessons. They may seem like little things, but you can learn a lot from a simple train ride.
You can roll your eyes and harmph at the guy who brought a full sized boom box onto the train and is playing loud music, or you smile when you look around an realize almost everyone in the car is dancing a little in their seats.
The world around you is what you choose to see, and your day is going to be a whole lot better if you choose to see the happy, the good.
Sometimes the bus driver doesn’t see you standing at the back door of the bus, and to get off at your stop you might need to scream ‘back door!’
Being assertive to get what you need is ok, as long as you’re polite while doing it.
The train is going to come at the same time whether you stand anxiously at the edge of the platform looking for it, or whether you take a minute to sit down on the bench.
Be patient. Trust the journey. God has a plan for you. You can keep yourself up at night worrying or you can sit back, take a breath, and enjoy.
If you see someone with a desperate look on their face running to catch the train you’re already on, you stick your leg out between the closing doors for them, no matter the bruising consequences.
You never know when you may need someone to hold that door for you.
A SEPTA worker lets you on the train for $2.00 instead of $2.25 because you don’t have a quarter on you. A bus driver stops mid-intersection because he sees a kid running to catch up. A group of people helps a mom get her stroller up a flight of stairs. A young man offers an elbow to a woman struggling to step up onto the bus. A guy gets out of his seat for you, not because you’re elderly or pregnant, but because you’re carrying a full bag, a yoga mat, a lunchbox, and are flushed from the trip up the stairs.
Goodness, kindness, and compassion are all around. You just have to take out your headphones, open your eyes, and see it.
Trish serves as Volunteer Coordinator at Seamen's Church Institute (SCI).