I tried something new today. Which, of course, means I had moments of intense self reflection and crippling anxiety. 'Cause that's what I do.

For the first time in pretty much my whole life I decided to take the bus in from my home in Missouri City to my office in Midtown Houston.

Big deal, right? In fact, I knew it wasn't a big deal. I'm not entirely new to public transportation. I've taken subways and cross-country trains in foreign countries and METRORail in Houston and various types of buses here and there. But for the most part, those are quick transits -- examples of me flitting from one localized area of a city to another. Fifteen minutes tops. What was new about today's experience was the fact that I was dependent on the bus and the train to get me to work on time. The control, my destiny, my workday fate, all entirely out of my hands.

Call me a control freak. Or just consider me a simple country boy, and unfamiliar with your big city public transportation ways. Or maybe it was all the flashbacks I was having to riding the bus to grade school in West Columbia. Kind of like PTSD.

Or, if we're looking at this analytically, it probably has more to do with the fact that I've grown up in a car culture, where automobiles mean status and freedom. I'm already sweating balls over the thought that I'm stranded, at the mercy of the public transportation system.

I'm looking into therapy.

The thing is, riding the bus and the train this morning gave me kind of a "good" feeling. Not in the "I'm saving the environment" kind of way. I don't really subscribe to that argument. I'm pretty sure that running hundreds of diesel-fueled buses day and night through repetitive routes all over one of the largest cities in the world is a great deal more than the equivalent of me driving to and from work once each day.

What I felt good about was a little more selfish than that.

I'm an avid audiobook reader, and one of the things I love about my commute to and from the office is the simple fact that I have a couple of hours each day to plow through an interesting audiobook. But there are times when I'd just like to have more good, ol' fashioned eye-to-page time, ya know? It's nice to have some time when I'm not having to multi-task. I'm not forced to focus my attention in slender strands while I negotiate whatever chaos has been caused by the irate drivers surrounding me. I'm not forced to worry about the fate of my precious mobile status symbol as I'm forced to stop short to avoid the fifteen other cars that have stopped short in front of me.

It's me time.

It's not perfect, I admit. There are occasional aromas. There are occasional panhandlers. There are occasional "I've had too much coffee and am filling quickly with regret" moments. But I've dealt with worse, and when I did I wasn't able to settle back and close my eyes for a few minutes to let the moment pass.

Me time.

Anyway, I don't know how regular this thing will become, but I'll probably fold it into my routine a bit. The occasional "environmentally friendly" ride into town, during which I can read from my Kindle or watch something on my iPad or type something up on my Macbook. You know ... roughing it.

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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.


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