Com­ing to A STOP

Wait­ing for the bus has taught this stu­dent a thing or two

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - THIS CITY - By Samantha Sam­son

‘GRA­HAM at Vaughan. The Bay,” the anony­mous, over­head fe­male voice says. Her words are my alarm clock: It’s time to truly start my day. Since I moved to Win­nipeg from the In­ter­lake in Novem­ber, my daily com­mute has in­volved the bus stops at Gra­ham Av­enue and Vaughan Street.

Ev­ery morn­ing while at­tend­ing univer­sity, I would wait for Anony­mous Woman’s voice to sig­nal me to pull the yel­low wire and alert the bus driver — who is com­pletely un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated — to stop so I can get off and get to class. Ev­ery af­ter­noon — af­ter cour­ses, study­ing and a bit too much cof­fee — I would make my way down Portage Av­enue, through the Bay and out to Vaughan to wait at the north­bound stop: my favourite place in Win­nipeg.

Learn­ing how to nav­i­gate this city’s tran­sit life­style hasn’t been easy for a gal who was used to walk­ing to school, work and ev­ery one of her friends’ houses in 10 min­utes or less. I can tell you ex­actly how it feels to watch your bus drive away when you’re 300 me­tres from the stop, or how, in our win­ter months, your toes and fin­ger­tips are the first body parts to lose feel­ing dur­ing the 20-minute wait that in­evitably fol­lows.

I have learned many lessons at my bus stop, such as “be on time, be­cause the world won’t wait for you,” and I’m sure my fel­low rid­ers can at­test to such re­al­iza­tions.

What makes the north­bound stop spe­cial to me is it’s con­stantly alive with char­ac­ters. It isn’t a day at Gra­ham and Vaughan with­out fel­low stu­dents in trendy out­fits who grasp their Tim’s dou­ble-dou­ble like a life­line, the granny with so many shop­ping bags from the Bay she takes up an en­tire bench in the bus shel­ter, or the lit­tle girl who, de­spite be­ing in down­town Win­nipeg, has man­aged to gather a bou­quet of wild­flow­ers she grips tightly in her tiny fist.

The thing about these char­ac­ters is you have to look up from your phone or iPod to no­tice them. I’ll ad­mit there are days I don’t even reg­is­ter fa­mil­iar faces be­cause I’m so wrapped up in the Songza playlist I’m lis­ten­ing to or what some­one posted on Twit­ter 47 sec­onds ago. I’m so in­volved in my vir­tual world, I of­ten for­get to step out­side and fo­cus on what and who is around me. The most valu­able les­son my bus stop has taught me? Wake up, Sam­son. Not only is it im­por­tant to be aware of your sur­round­ings for safety rea­sons, for­get­ting to no­tice other people is an in­jus­tice.

Tech­nol­ogy has made it so easy to be self-in­volved (Is this the right light­ing for a selfie? I won­der if my ex has seen my sub­tweet?), I am guilty of ig­nor­ing other hu­mans that are in my pres­ence.

This isn’t to say tech­nol­ogy has no place in my life, as I am just as at­tached to my cell­phone as the next per­son. What my bus stop has never failed to re­mind me, how­ever, is tech­nol­ogy has a place in my life and should not be a con­stant.

Are these ideas a lit­tle philo­soph­i­cal? Of course. I’m a stu­dent of the Univer­sity of Win­nipeg. But that’s what I love the most about my bus stop at Gra­ham and Vaughan: This seem­ingly mun­dane place has given me the gifts of some of the most im­por­tant lessons I’ve learned out­side of a class­room.

All I had to do was un­plug to wake up.

Samantha Sam­son at­tends the joint de­gree/di­ploma com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­gram at the Univer­sity of Win­nipeg. You can find her rid­ing the bus or on Twit­ter

at @ss­ship­wrecks.

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