Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 12: Oxford Bus System

I know it doesn't sound like a very exciting thing about which to blog, but it sure makes life easier here. The bus system in Oxford is great. If I don't have the time to walk 20-25 minutes home, I can take a bus leaving about every two minutes from Oxford City Centre (I know I'm not British, but that is how they spell it!) up to the top of the University Park. The bus to church (the 300) runs at the least every 15 minutes on Sundays to Redbridge Park and Ride (15 mins.). A bus runs to Gatwick and Heathrow airport every 30 minutes (90 min. ride), every hour to Cambridge (3 hr. ride), and, my personal favorite, to London every 10 minutes (90-180 mins., depending on traffic). If I plan in advance (usually two weeks), I can buy a ticket for one pound on (with the large exception of what I'm convinced is a racket - airport service, unless you can get a easybus from London). But even if I miss that, there is always at least a 10% student "concession". Oh the joys of being a student...

Yesterday I took the "Oxford Tube," one of the two main buslines to London (the other is the Oxford Espress - pronounced like an espresso) and back again for dinner in the city. I strangely deal with motion sickness here (from reading too much while driving, probably), and, when I wasn't reading, got to know the bus driver a bit from my seat at the very front of the bus. He was quite kind and seemed to really enjoy the people with whom he worked - waving and making other funny gestures to fellow bus drivers - and even, the passengers. He grew up in a little, beautiful town 8 miles out of Oxford of which he is very proud.

As my driver began to tell me how many rounds to London he will make in one shift (often four!), I pried just a little more and got him to tell me his whole schedule - works from 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., when he gets home just in time to "have a wash" (I presume he meant shower) before his wife leaves to start her shift at 4:00 a.m. He then sleeps for a few hours before getting his three girls up, showered, dressed, lunches made, and breakfasted before walking them to school. He then finally settles down for another nap before getting up again and doing the whole thing all over. I made some comment about how it must be really tough. He surprised me by saying he wouldn't have it any other way.

Here was a man who worked a job and lived a life very few would envy, yet he was truly happy. What was more, he contributed to the happiness of many around him. If all could lead such a life - to be deliberate and cheerful in the things we do, and be happy to, as one leader in my faith has said, "lift where you stand." Really, we shouldn't have it any other way!

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