Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dump the Pump

On Wednesday I decided to take the bus to work and walk the kids to school. I thought it would be fun. Or at the very least, interesting.

I also wanted to do it in honor of Dump the Pump day next Thursday, June 19th. I haven’t ridden the bus since I was in high school, and I think even then I may have only ridden it once. On our recent trip to New Orleans we used all kinds of transportation other than a car, and I’ve been thinking about why we never do this in Memphis. In plenty of other places, riding the bus is perfectly normal and acceptable behavior.

I picked up some MATA brochures at a work event last weekend, checked out their website, and talked to a few MATA reps on the phone. I found out that I could walk the kids to school (3/4 of a mile) and then double back to Summer & Hollywood to catch the bus. The bus basically goes straight down North Parkway to the North Terminal on Main, which is exactly the way I drive to work. The only difference being that I’d need to catch a trolley to get to the south end where my office is.

When I told the kids that we were walking to school they were both very excited. They love doing new things. I had hoped to get us out of the door by 8:00am, but it was more like 8:13am. I made sure both monkeys had on good shoes (no Crocs or anything) and brought along a bottle of water. (I was sure I would need it at some point, anyway.)

The sidewalks on our street are pretty sad, so we walked along the street to East Parkway. This is pretty familiar terrain for the boys since we often walk to Overton Park. It didn’t really get exciting for them until we got to cross Sam Cooper, which we did without incident.

Walking on the streets, one really gets to appreciate how crappy our sidewalks are. No wonder everyone drives! (Or I guess you could say, why fix the sidewalks that no one uses?) It was also demoralizing to see how much litter there is everywhere—most of it food related. (However, a walk in Memphis would not be complete without random personal hygiene items strewn about.)

There was one man in a car pulling out of an apartment complex driveway who sat there for quite some time. (I assume he was trying to turn left.) Satchel was very concerned about him. “Why is he sitting there for so long? Did his car break down?” Satchel (and Jiro) don’t realize yet that you must wait for a break in traffic before pulling out into the street. Just one of the things that makes walking anywhere with them somewhat scary!

While Satchel was very amped up, Jiro was rather mellow. He seemed to prefer walking at a casual pace. Several times I had to ask him to hurry up and/or to please walk faster. I would have told Satchel to slow down, but I was a little concerned about making it back to the bus stop on time.

We crossed East Parkway with no problem and Satchel was very excited to push the crosswalk button at the corner of east Parkway & North Parkway. He was back on familiar terrain as his teachers sometimes walk his class to the park. Once we were on Trezevant, Satchel went into “archaeologist mode” where he had to pick up every bit of interesting trash he saw. And every stick. And let’s not forget the rocks. I was not amused. It was hot! I had to get on a bus! I had boob sweat! I actually barked at him, “If you pick up one more thing we will never walk to school again!” Thankfully, he did see this as a deterrent and stopped.

Instead he started showing me different flowers and fences and other things he’s spotted on his other walks. Now that we were getting close, Jiro finally started picking up his pace. He was eager to see his friends and play on the playground. When we arrived, everyone was outside and Satchel proudly announced, “We walked to school!”

I looked at my watch. It read 8:33am. Twenty minutes to walk less than a mile! I said goodbye and power walked towards the bus stop hoping to make it in time for the 8:36am bus. I wasn’t too optimistic.

Read about my bus ride to work here.

I also did a post on the economics of riding the bus.

When is the last time you rode the bus? Why not give it a try and then blog about it? Come on, it'll be fun! I may take the kids for a ride before next Thursday if the stars align correctly.

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