“The fact that we both have umbrellas and ride the same bus does not reveal some deep kinship between us.” -Book of Snark 3.3.3
I work at a large metropolitan university. Parking on campus during the regular semester is an expensive nightmare at best and impossible at worst. There is staff parking designated at various surface lots and ramps. The monthly cost and length of the waiting list for a spot varies based on its proximity to campus. So, for slightly less money, staff can opt for a monthly unlimited bus pass. I live in the city, not the suburbs, and at times have even gone without owning a car. So, I choose the bus for my commute.
I have laughed at people who expressed concern for my safety over riding the bus. For one thing, this is Minneapolis, not Chicago. And not all buses are the same experience- not the routes or the days or the times of day. If you really want to get a sense of a neighborhood, ride the local bus. See who gets on and how angry they are. The areas of economic depression/ suppression become obvious. But mostly, folks are just trying to get through life and want to be left alone.
My first four years of working at the ‘U’, I lived in neighborhoods where the only option was one local bus that went near work and if I missed it, I had to wait another half hour for the next one. These buses were filled with every kind of person, working all different careers at different companies- restaurant staff, building maintenance, office workers, etc. It was sometimes the same people but often different enough that I didn’t come to recognize them.
“If I’ve learned anything on the express bus, it’s that major pencil necked science geeks love to rock out.” -Book of Snark 3.3.5
Then I moved near Uptown, a high density, gentrified commercial district just south of downtown Minneapolis, immortalized by Prince’s song ‘Uptown’. Now this bus is an express bus whose only destination is the university. Basically, everyone on this bus is student, staff, or faculty and if they aren’t, it is very obvious. After riding it for seven years, I knew who all the regulars were, but we didn’t talk. It has got to be the quietest bus I have ever ridden.
I am a writer and therefore an observer. I study people, their interactions with others, and the world outside the window as it passes by. The commute is a time of natural transition for me from my home space to my work space. I sorely miss it in the age of COVID-19 remote work. And whatever good, bad, or ugly that was happening in my life was on my face and in my body language during that commute. Mostly, people left me alone because I am THAT woman- the angry professional woman on the bus.
I have my reasons. We all do. And as I would grind through the struggles of my professional and personal life, I would journal my observations and post my quips on social media. And after a time, a dear friend said to me, “I want a book of your quotes, something I can open up and read every day.” And I thought she was both sweet and nuts for thinking I could actually make something like that a viable thing.
“I am on the bus asking myself why I am on the bus.” -Book of Snark 3.3.2
Now, I love to read quotes from the deep thinkers of the world. They give me little nuggets of wisdom to use to remind me how to live a good life and be a good person. After my loft apartment burned, I bought myself a book of collected quotes. It was one of these small books that women usually buy for other women as gifts, filled with all kinds of hopeful affirmations. I like it, I really do.
But there is also a part of me that recognizes the unspoken expectation of women in American society, to put on a front of happiness, hope, and perseverance in all situations, at all times. Let me tell you, I have never been shut down so fast as when I gave the honest answer of what it’s like to stand in the middle of a burnt out garbage heap of what used to be your life.
I needed the quote book that spoke to me. I also knew that it didn’t exist. So, I made the decision to write and publish it myself.
And so, for the past three years I have been collecting and refining every smart-ass comment, every bit of everyday wisdom I’ve been thinking about on those bus rides to and from work, all with the intention of creating my own collection specifically for women like me. To my surprise, it’s harder than it looks to curate quotes into a logical and meaningful collection. I have to give credit to the authors of those cheesy women’s books because they make it look easy. And they are in fact, the inspiration for my first published work.
Coming Fall 2020…
Book of Snark
Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus
-Copyright C.M.Mounts, August 2020