The Enforced Idleness of Public Transport (and Poverty)

I leave the house at 7:50am. I walk for 30 minutes with a three-year old, up and down hills, sometimes with a footpath, sometimes through grass knee high for me, waist high or higher for her. It’s that or the road. We choose the grass, for all that it soaks through our shoes and pants, and we sometimes trip in unseen holes. Better than run over.

At 8:25 I drop her at kindy. We have time today, so I can chat with the staff, make sure she’s settled (Monday I didn’t, and for the first time in a month and a half of drop offs by me and her aunt, she cried after I left). A quick goodbye and I’m back walking up the road by 8:35/8:40. My bus, at the top of this steep hill, leaves at 8:51. Supposedly. It has never been on time. Today I waited until 9:05 for the bus to come. I can’t rely on it being late though; it leaves once an hour in the morning and if I miss it I have another half hour walk to a different route. So I wait, unable to read lest I not signal the bus to stop (because even though it is the only bus servicing this stop, I may well be reading while leaning on the pole for fun) (this stop does not have a seat, or a shelter, which is somewhat problematic for me carrying my laptop and assorted gear in what is rapidly becoming Brisbane’s wet season). I wait, listening to music, furtively checking twitter, or instagram, or facebook. The things that I can drop at a moment’s notice.

The bus route itself winds and grinds and bumps. It is a suburban route, so it winds through the backroads, speed bumps and traffic calming devices abound. I’m writing today, to see if it works. I am afraid I will be engrossed and miss my stop however. Again, I must signal my intention to leave the bus.

I reach my transit station at 9:25. I have missed one of the connections so I wait for the second. I finally hit my campus at 9:40. Another 5 minute walk to the lab, chatting with my ex-supervisor/current head of research. I sit, and get myself settled now. Lunch unpacked, maybe a coffee or a tea (nope, just water because I haven’t brought any milk with me to make said tea). Wonder once more exactly how one prints wirelessly and get told IT won’t help me with my laptop, only with uni property. In direct contrast to the advice on their website, but I give up for today and start to read, taking notes on index cards and Cornell paper printed at home.

I left the house at 7:50 and start work around 9:50. Two hours in transit (with about 30 minutes of that simply waiting around) for a journey that would be less than 30 minutes if I had a car. A car we cannot really afford, not right now, not with insurance, rego, fuel, parking and assorted costs. And I do it all again this afternoon, leaving my desk at 1:30, getting home at 2:00 to dump my ridiculously heavy bag off, then walking to kindy (only 30 minutes on my own!) and back again (close to an hour with a post-kindy three year old walking mostly up hill). My legs hurt, my feet hurt, but dinner needs to be made, laundry needs to be done, discussions had with the three year old. The books and notes get dumped and I slide right into the domestic sphere again. I haven’t managed to tear myself out of that routine yet.

It’s my first week and I am half way through and fucking exhausted already. And it is nothing to do with the work itself (which is delightful! And interesting! And I’m already slightly riled at completely unexamined and deeply sexist footnotes that disappear women from the subject being examined!) but simply the logistics of getting to and from where I need to be.

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One thought on “The Enforced Idleness of Public Transport (and Poverty)

  1. Pingback: My first article | loup et lapin

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