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  • Dr. Stuart P. Stofferahn

Day #3

I’d like to reiterate that Lincoln is all up hill. I don’t understand it, but it’s true. I know this, because even when there appears to be a downhill, I slow down. The rules of physics do not seem to apply to me.


Today began much like Wednesday, in that my wife, Heather, was able to drop me off at an appointment on her way to work. The limitations I have placed upon myself and receiving rides revolve mostly around convenience; if it is more than a slight inconvenience for folks to give me a ride (out of their way), I will opt for my own means of transportation.

The headsets? I’m glad you asked.


That was my second stop of the day. The young man pictured with me is Ryan Evans, Program Manager for KZUM, 89.3 FM here in Lincoln. I’m not being interviewed as much as I am being trained. KZUM just built out a couple of really cool podcast studios, and they chose us as one of five who will be producing the first KZUM podcasts. I will talk more about that after “I’ve Got a Ticket to Ride!” but imagine the fun we will have with our students as they help co-host and produce. Yeah, we thought it was a pretty cool thing too. More on that starting in June.


Ryan, KZUM, 89.3 FM, bottom left; 20-year veteran driver, right.

After my time with Ryan, I took the bus from KZUM back home for a bit before a late afternoon appointment at South Pointe mall. I have come to really look forward to these bus trips.


Here’s why:


I met a lovely lady who gets on the bus every day and goes downtown to clean offices. That’s what she does, she’s darn good at it (her words), and she likes doing it. She’s also been doing it for a couple decades. Every day, without fail. And the bus gets her there.

Without the bus, she wouldn’t have a job. I think this theme has made an appearance a couple times . . .


I met a gentleman who was blind. He was using a cane. He was on his way to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired to teach his students. I had so many questions for him, but he only rode for about ten blocks. When he deboarded the bus, I wanted to follow him. I had a sense of loss . . . like, I’m never going to see this guy again. What a shame.


I struck up a conversation with the bus driver. He knows Don (my first day), and both of us noticed that he wasn’t on today’s ride. He’s known Don for 20 years – since the first day he been driving the bus. There was a slight pause, and then he said what both of us were thinking . . .


“I hope he’s okay.”


I hope he’s okay . . . . Humanity. Grace. Kindness. I hope he’s okay. If only we cared for our neighbors in the same way. Hell, if only we cared for our loved ones in the same way.


Phil and Flat Stuey

At my last meeting of the day at South Pointe (met a friend – Phil - at Old Chicago for a beer and pizza rolls), Phil asked me a question. He wanted to know, in the short time I have been riding, what’s one thing I have learned.


There have been many things, but as I watch people board and de-board, I find a couple common themes. The first is that the bus routes are more than transportation – they are a lifeline for so many. More on that theme as this month progresses. In addition to that, however, there is another.

The bus is a sacred space.


Not so much as it might relate to a religious space . . . bigger, more encompassing.


This space is sacred, because it provides. It connects its riders to jobs, to food, to friends, to family. It connects to a tribe – a sense of belonging. It is a space that includes everyone.


Do you talk out loud to yourself? You belong.

Do you wear funny clothes? You belong.

Do you speak a different language? You belong.

Do you smell funny? You belong.

Do you have tattoos? You belong.

Do piercings cover your face? You belong.

Are you rich? You belong.

Are you poor? You belong.

Are you young? You belong.

Are you old? You belong.


Are you disabled? You belong.


Yes. The space is sacred. And you belong.



Lessons Learned:

1. Lincoln has a connected community. It resides on the bus routes.

2. Lincoln is still all up hill.

3. If you need a tribe, ride the bus.



P.S.


Hey – South Pointe . . . you never seen a guy in green pants, red, velvet sport coat, and a green bowtie before? I thought everyone in Old Chicago was going to get whiplash.


Lighten up :)


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