Thursday, December 17, 2015

Public Transit, Private Observations, and Vera

It's no secret. I take public transportation now to get where I need to go. That will happen when you, oh I don't know, sell your car and don't plan on buying another one for some time.

However in the 216 of things, the views of public transportation (or transit) are very strange.

From my observations, West Siders don't see taking public transportation as necessarily as a bad thing.  You just hop on the 26 or the 22 (optly nicknamed the "Fast Food Flyer" due to so many different fast food chains and low budget diners along Lorain Avenue).

From the East Sider perspective, it's the equivalent to having a one-way ticket to Sheol, or damnation. Since most folks on the East Side drive to where they need to go (and since the East Side of Cleveland is quite larger than the West Side of Cleveland), the only folks who use public transit are mostly folks who can't afford a vehicle (*raises hand slowly*).

Now, let me be clear: I am not indicating that East Siders with vehicles look down upon us transit travelers.  On the contrary, or at least in my predicament, many East Siders have been more than willing to escort me to either a rapid (train) station or a bus stop so I can get home safely.  I mean, it's not like I don't know how to use the public transit system here in the city; I have been doing so since the age of 3, and by myself since the age of 10.  But, there's something more to it.

For example, take my synagogue.  It's out in Beachwood, an Eastern suburb, approximately five miles from where I live.  It is on the #94 (read as "number ninety-four") bus route (read as "rout", not "root").  It's great for me to get to my volunteering gig as well as Shabbat services.  It's not so great for me when I want to other things with the synagogue, like different mitzvot or High Holy Day services.

Yet, I find myself, usually after Shabbat service is over, having a couple of vehicles come up to me (all from synagogue, because I recognize each driver) and ask me for a ride to the rapid station or back home.  I am not biting the proverbial hand that wants to feed me, oh no. Actually, I find this quite revealing of the personalities of East Siders versus West Siders.

This almost NEVER happens on the West Side; having someone asking if you needed a lift somewhere.  And it's not because the West Side is full of evil ingrates (although I do make a few exceptions), it's because it's so common place for folks to hop on a bus or the rapid that it's almost not necessary to offer a ride.  Just about everything is within walking distance (again, the West Side is much smaller than the East Side).

I bring this up because I find it fascinating on how different the worlds are within Cuyahoga County.  The folks in my synagogue who offer me lifts don't do it because they feel sorry for me; they do it because they care (and also a few mitzvah points).  And believe me, I am very grateful that the folks (the synagogue and both Anshe Chesed and Chevrei Tikvah congregations).

Maybe, just maybe, this random act of kindness and others needs to be incorporated onto the West Side. Again, not because West Siders are evil, but because there needs to be more humanity over on that side of town.

Then again, the East Side needs to seriously invest in some Sheetz gas stations.  One in Beachwood and one in Cleveland Heights and one in Solon would be great.

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