The Wheels on the Bus...

For as long as I have been part of the American work-force, I have been fortunate enough to have worked for employers that had their own parking lots and actually had enough parking for everyone. I have also been fortunate enough to have always lived within 10 minutes of where I worked…that is until now. Employee parking at the Mayo Clinic is extremely limited and from what I’m told, if I signed up for the waiting lists for Mayo parking and for Packer season tickets…I’d get the season tickets before getting the parking!

So, I drive about 35 miles to the edge of Rochester, where I park my car and ride the free Mayo shuttle into the heart of downtown. Riding the bus is a new experience for me and to be honest, the thought of not being able to leave work, hop into my car and drive straight home does bother me a little and I guess being able to drive to and from work provided a little bit of freedom that I took for granted. The bus ride in and of itself is quite the experience. For an observer of people like myself, it’s a veritable moving laboratory with a wide variety of subjects; Muslim women in their Hijab’s, Nurses, Business people and Med Students are there. Men, women, young, old, Asian, Russian and Latino all ride the route 17 bus. The bus makes 4 stops along its route and at our stop about 10 people regularly stand in the early morning light, silently waiting for the sound and smell of the buss’s diesel fuel. After the last stop, the bus is usually full with about 40 people; 5 to 10 of them standing. Some people greet each other like they’ve known each other for years and they set next to or near each other and chat the time away. Others come in, sit down and stare forward…never saying a word or looking at their fellow commuters.

I find myself somewhere in between…there is a maintenance guy by the name of Darryl that I’ve said hi to and I always say hi and thank you to the bus drivers, but I’ve pretty much kept to myself and my self-appointed role of sociologist. In the morning, there is the nurse who is always talking on her cell phone and talking loud enough that people sitting near the front can hear her quite plainly…people tend to avoid her…There’s the group of three women and 1 old gentleman who always sit near each other and talk about the books they’re reading, or they’re children…at first I was convinced that they worked with each other or knew each other from outside of the bus, but now I believe it’s because they’ve been riding the same bus with each other for years and during that 10 min ride, each day, every year, have developed a bond…maybe not a real friendship, but 10 min a day over a 10 year period comes to 26,000 min spent together. That’s 433 hours or 18 full 24 hr days. The ride to work in the morning is much more subdued than the ride to our cars in the afternoon and Friday’s are markedly more lively with discussion about who’s going on vacation and what people are planning for the weekend. Some of the people are the same both in and out of work, but quite often, they are different. In the afternoon, there’s the student who always looks like she’s not amused and in a horrible mood. Then there’s the lady who told half the bus that she had a staff infection and just about lost her leg. There’s the VERY pregnant Asian woman who causes a lot of discussion among the other women when she misses a day… OH and the older lady who past out copies of her recipe for Hawaiian Flatulence Bars….yeah. And the one (there’s always one) I haven’t figured out yet is the young woman, who I can tell by her badge works for Mayo, who every morning pulls out her bus punch card and has the driver punch it…why? She can ride for free and yet pays for a pass…

Like adults going on a field-trip, we carry our lunches, our IPods, books and umbrellas. We file on and off the bus and scurry to our offices or cars…for 10 minutes a day; some 40 strangers come together and become a community…the community of route 17.

So here’s the dealio, people move about us everyday of our lives; the man who held the office door for you, the woman you rode in the elevator with…the family in front of you in the grocery line. What do you know about them? Their lives? Their struggles? And you say…’But Vince! They’re strangers and going up to them…well, it would be really weird!’ Ok, fair enough…but what will it cost you to offer up a quick prayer for that man, woman or family?

The funny thing about praying for and blessing others that you don’t know is, that quite often you’ll find that you yourself are blessed!

Now if I can only figure out which one of them prayed for me?!

~ V


  1. Your view on the bus is very interesting Vince!!!!! I do that in the Log Cabin ,,, IF I HAVE TIME!!!!! God sure did make some interesting people!!!!!! We are blessed to be a part of this beautiful earth that God has created for us. Say hi to Lisa for me and what is your address.??? Brittany gave it to me... but I misplaced it. Hope all is well for you, Lisa and the kids.

    In Jesus's love.
    Debby Penzkover

  2. Hi Debby! I would be happy to give you our new address. Can you give me your email address? I seem to have misplaced it!




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