Bus stop adds color to life

I missed the bus. It had already proved to be a fairly dreadful day, as I had unintentionally left my cell phone at home and my last class of the day ended more than a few minutes too late. But missing my bus put the icing on the cake.

As I contemplated sitting down on the somewhat sticky bench in the shelter, debating where to go and what to do until the next bus came around in about an hour, I took a moment to look at all the things around me.

All I saw at first is what I would have described as “typical downtown Erie.”

And then it occurred to me that I should just stay there, mostly because I risked the chance of missing the next bus, too, if I moved.

But something else made me stay.

I furtively pulled out my used copy of “Gulliver’s Travels” and “read” about two pages before I realized that I could not pay attention to the words in front of me. There was so much going on in my peripheral vision.

So I put the book away and used my eyes for something, admittedly, far more educational at the time. I really saw these people – downtown Erie-ites – for the first time.

That day, I discovered that Erie’s quirks are part of its beauty.

I have lived here all my life, but I had never truly spent time downtown – aside from the occasional Celebrate Erie festival – until I came to Gannon two years ago. And even then, I have been a commuter for those two, going on three, years.

Until this, my junior year, I had rarely ventured the short distance from Palumbo to Starbucks by myself. I just went to class, did some homework in the library, and went on my merry way back to Millcreek Township at the end of the day.

But this year, with so many added co-curricular activities, I’ve been spending much more time on campus.

When I first got to the shelter-stop on the intersection of Ninth and State streets, not yet entirely sure if I had missed my bus, an older African American woman asked me if I wanted to buy some candy.

She was slightly robust with a large growth hanging like a tumor from her right ear. I was honestly a little terrified of eating whatever kind of candy she wanted to sell me, but, regardless, I didn’t have any cash on me, so I politely declined.

In the hour I stood, and eventually sat, in that bus shelter, I saw many people come and go. Tall, short, skinny, fat, white, black; they all looked the same to me – uniquely the same.

I grew up with my parents and teachers telling me how important things like education, money and knowing “the right people” are. But because of this bus incident, I came to the realization that these things are only important if you make them that way.

Those things – the money and education, namely – aren’t the epitome of existence for everybody, as I have often times been led to believe. I have never seen people so content with life, just joking around with their friends over small cups of McDonald’s coffee.

They don’t need to go to college and learn how to be rocket scientists. They have no desire to eventually see that “Ph.D.” forever attached to the end of their names. Yet, they’re just as happy and fulfilled as we are.

This realization of the colorful beauty of downtown Erie just may have been worth getting to work an hour late.


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