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September 30th, 2006

iPod Care

I've owned a townhome on the "Woffline" bus line for 20 years now. I've actually lived in my house for about six of those 20 years, while renting it out the other 14. In January of 2004, I started grad school at NCSU, the college campus at the other end of the line.

On August 30, 2006, I did something I've never done in all of those years — I actually took the bus to campus. Being determined not to spend $75 for a parking pass to attend a once a week class this semester, I checked the schedule to find that the "#9 Fraternity Court" bus that picks up at the end of my street, drops me off about 20 minutes later, right in front of the building in which I have class.

I feel good about taking public transportation. I like the feeling of seeing my car still in my parking spot when I get home knowing I didn't use any gas, didn't put any wear and tear on it, and didn't have to pay to park or find a spot far enough off Hillsborough Street that isn't marked "Two Hour Parking Maximum."

Last week, while riding home after class, the bus stopped at one of its three "wait stops," which is where it will sit and wait if it's ahead of schedule, or for a driver change. This was my 5th time taking the bus, and only twice has it stopped in this spot longer than just to drop off or pick up passengers. One time the wait was to get back on schedule; the other time it was to switch drivers.

I was lost in my iPod, my soul being tortured by one of my 96 singles downloaded from my 10-CD set of "Classic Soul Ballads," bought one night on a hotel TV in a weak moment. I haven't owned a television for 4 1/2 years, but one night out of town and inebriated, the evil thing sucked me into one of its infomercials, which resulted in this purchase that has actually brought me great joy ever since. But I digress...

So, I'm on the stopped bus, music blaring in my ears, and those who are getting off at this stop proceed to do so. As the girl sitting across from me stands up, ear buds in her own ears, smiling she leans over and taps me on the shoulder.

"Everyone has to get off the bus," she said as I removed my ear buds.

I looked around — having been totally oblivious to the fact that everyone else had departed — and I was thankful that she cared enough to cue me.

All of us, like cattle, walked to a new bus, which left momentarily. Before my stop, I tried to think of a way to say thank you to my St. Bernard. She bounded off the bus at the stop before mine, and because I didn't tap her on the shoulder first, she didn't hear me say, "Thanks for the iCare."

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