I’m a rockstar in my everyday life. My schedule, my routine – I can knock out my work and homework and get back in time to go for a run. I’m comfortable doing the activities I fit into my puzzle of a life. But ask me to step out of my comfort zone, and sure, I’ll be enthusiastic and try my best to be a good sport….but then I panic. Boy, do I panic.
“Take the bus!” Our professor says. “It will be fun!” She says. Well, maybe for most. My experience was a bit different.
A few miles and a twenty-five minute car drive from our university, you’ll find my home. It’s here that I searched Orlando transit websites for any clue as to how to work the bus system. I found it was $2 for a ride – great! With that information, I thought I was ready! Thought.
I hopped on the first bus I found, payed my fee, and immediately felt the panic. I planted myself in the warm seat (which was uncomfortable in itself) and felt paralyzed.
Internal thoughts: What am I doing?! I didn’t check where I was going, so I have no idea where I am going. When do I get off? I don’t know where to get off! What if I stop in a bad area? After they stop, if I stay on, do I have to pay again? I can’t ask, I’m a total outsider. The bus regulars will know I don’t ride the bus and then be so annoyed! Oh my goodness. What do I do?
Creaky seats and squeaky brakes pierced my thoughts. I glanced around to the other bus riders, who were completely at ease. Yes that’s because they’re normal and they don’t panic like I do.
A-HA! Altamonte! I know this place! The bus pulled to a stop and my clammy hands slipped as they pushed me off of the still-warm seat. I practically flew down the steps, barked a rushed “OKAYTHANKYOUBYE” at the driver, tripped out of the doors, and stumbled into the Florida heat.
I took a deep breath and felt immediate relief. Well, at least I’m not moving anymore. So…what next? I zeroed in on the Dunkin’ Donuts that sat outside the Altamonte Hospital and fast-walked my way in. This was familiar. I knew this place and I felt better. I grabbed a donut and a vanilla iced coffee, calmed myself down, and did what any emotionally struggling college girl does – called my mom to save me. She laughed and made fun of me the whole ride home, but at least I felt better.
This is what I was used to. My anxiety was gone and I was ready to go home. Next time, I’ll do my research and maybe the bus won’t make me so nervous. Until then, I’ll stick to getting around with my Jeep and the Nikes on my feet.
An Update: The Issue of Inaccessibility
As you can tell, my first bus trip was completely embarrassing and a bit of a challenge. I realized I missed a real opportunity to enjoy the experience because of how anxious I was to get this project over with and how nervous I felt on the bus. For this reason, I wanted to take another trip on the bus. A well prepared, thought-out trip. This time I would be more observant and feel less anxiety – I was determined! It was this action that led me to stumble upon a fatal flaw (or two, or three…) of the bus system.
My second bus trip has yet to happen. Why? Bus stops. That’s why. I tried to find an accessible bus stop as I wandered through the Lake Mary/Sanford area last week. When I finally discovered one, I was immediately displeased. It was extremely close to the edge of the busy and bustling 17-92, had a dinky little bench (with no overhead protection, and rain was threatening to fall any second), and – here’s the kicker – no sidewalk!
This blog post was originally published on TrIP: The Knight, Fantastic blog.
Kelsey Moscater is a student at the University of Central Florida, focusing on the areas of Advertising and Public Relations. When she’s not studying, interning or working, she enjoys spending time with her family and exploring the Orlando food scene.