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At the Back of the Bus

How shuttling to campus saved my sanity

· Junior Year

One of the biggest challenges I had transitioning from Estrella Mountain Community College to Arizona State University was the drive. On a good day I could get to school in about 30 minutes. A bad one? Try hours. And that isn't even counting the drive from school that would occur during rush hour. Add the additional frustrating bonus of not being able to use the carpool and you have a good two hour commute.

Fortunately, I discovered through one of my advisors that a shuttle ran from the West campus, which for me was a 20 minute less trafficked drive, to the Tempe campus. It had WIFI, a restroom, and of course since it could partake of the carpool lane, much much faster. Not to mention taking the headache of freeway driving out of the equation.

Another bonus was the fact that to park my car on the West campus I would be saving $400 a year on the parking pass, plus saving gas money. Yes, it would limit my freedom somewhat and I was at the mercy of the shuttle schedule but the pros outweighed the cons.

For my first semester I would wait in line at the shuttle stop, hoping it would not get so full that I wouldn't have a seat. My seat of choice was at the back where it was a little quieter (not that anybody really ever talked) and I discovered one undeniable truth.

No one wanted to sit next to the old lady.

Students would walk all the way to the back, realize that I was the only one with an empty seat next to them, turn around and return to another seat at the front.

WTF?

i don't smell. I don't randomly talk to strangers (ok yes I do but in this case I was careful not to overstep my boundaries) I keep to my side of the seat, thereby respecting others' personal space. I don't eat or drink anything offensive. So, why was I shunned?

A friend suggested that my appearance might give off a professorly vibe. Since I often wear dresses, am well groomed, and of a certain age that could be it. And who would want to sit next to professor who may just start lecturing out of nowhere! 

Maybe I just remind 18 to 20 year-olds too much of their moms, and they are avoiding what they believe to be a motherly lecture coming their way. Something about why they were wearing sweatpants to an institution of higher learning perhaps?

At first I was offended. Why not sit by me? But then I discovered that the only empty seat on the shuttle sometimes was the one right next to me. And that meant I could stretch out, put my bag on the seat, and use it as a table.

So, just chalk another one up for age. It gets you out of having to share a seat with someone!

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