Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The people at work think that I'm crazy to take the train to work. At least three people have given me that look when I've brought it up. And I've only brought it up reluctantly after the first time. Their reasons for this disdain/concern are probably varied. There's a certain amount of concern since I'm a woman walking through the neighborhood, although my boss says that's unfounded.

Mostly, I think it's a difference in perspective. I've grown up mostly privileged and with a transportation culture that revolved around cars. It's a relief to me not to have to drive and I'm a little bit of an earth-muffin so I like that I use less fuel and pollute less by riding public transportation. Also, I feel a little less like I'm trying to be the Great White Hope if I approach this community on foot. However, a lot of the people that I work with come from this neighborhood or a neighborhood like the one I'm trying to help rebuild by working in it. Some of them grew up without reliable transportation and could not choose not to stand in the cold, if that makes sense. The difference in experience makes them offer me rides home and try to insist that I should drive on nights I'm going to be there past 4:30.

So, today was a classic cold snap. Yesterday it was 55 degrees and today it was 22 degrees with blowing snow. Since I do not consume much media, I was totally unprepared. So there I stood, waiting on an elevated platform for my train for 10 minutes. Then, I had to walk 4 blocks on the other side of the train ride to work. As I walked that second outdoor leg without gloves or a hat, I realized that I was defending myself to my co-workers in my head, "It uses less fuel and pollutes less when I take the train." "It's good for my soul to know what it's like, even a little bit, to be the only person of my race in a situation." "The walking is good for my health." I laughed at myself but kept up the mantra.

Because these things are true. I was convincing myself that I shouldn't drive for the rest of the winter without even realizing that that was what I wanted to do.

We'll see.

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