Learn to Love the Bumpy Ride

I entered UCSD as a transfer student, so I wasn’t quite as wide-eyed and enthused as some of the freshmen straight out of high school. And instead of having my parents pack the family minivan with all my worldly belongings and drive off into the sunset, I began my journey by boarding a blue-and-white shuttle bus from the east parking lot.

Since then, every ride has been the same. I flash my ID card and nod in recognition to my sleepy-eyed shuttle driver as I step onto the aisle way and stumble into a seat. The first time, I couldn’t help looking out the window to stare at my car, sitting alone like a neglected puppy in the East Commuter parking lot. “Don’t look at her, Mims,” I told myself. “You’re on the shuttle now. There’s no going back.”

Despite the $549 I shelled out for a parking permit, by the time I arrive on campus at noon, finding a parking spot on campus is like finding a $10 bill in the laundry machine, and I’m forced to park on the other side of the freeway. So, it’s the shuttle for me.

The ride begins as the bus roars into life and the driver suddenly springs into action. I feel like it’s only be a matter of time before I see my breakfast again. Each time I think that I’ve never met anyone who hit the gas and pumped the brakes as indiscriminately as this driver. And with every ride, the current driver becomes the worst driver I’d ever met.

And as I sit on the shuttle, violently bouncing up and down at the merest hint of a speed bump, I can’t ignore the ‘what if’ questions sweeping my brain. What if she hits that little Smart Car? What if the guy next to me eating a breakfast sandwich starts blowing chunks?

By the time I reach campus all I can usually muster is a meek “thanks” to the driver. And I mean “thanks” in the way a drafted soldier thanks his buddy for shooting him in the foot.

But despite all that, we’ve all depended on the shuttles to get to us to and from class. As bumpy and stomach churning as they are, shuttles are a necessity for those of us without $549 to blow on permits or two hours to waste in search of parking. No matter how nausea-inducing that morning ride is, shuttles are good for us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my car, and there’s nothing like making a late-night Rigobertos run after the buses have long stopped. But there are few things that replace the convenience of the shuttles.

Those friendly blue and whites are a gift given to us so that our legs don’t fall off as we trek across campus. They compensate for overcrowded parking lots, distill the fear of death by parking tickets and reassure students that they won’t be trapped on campus with no escape for nine straight months.

Aside from the needs of the 28,000 people on campus, these metal giants are good for the environment too. On average, 5,000 UCSD students use the shuttles daily, nearly a quarter of the undergraduate population. nd especially at a school as environmentally conscious as UCSD, it’s worth an uncomfortable 10 minutes to do our part to stave out global warming.  Though my stomach might not agree, the shuttles make life at UCSD a little bit easier.

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