January 8th, 2019
We stopped at the Kenosha Transit building on 39th Avenue. She needed a bus pass. The young woman does not currently have a drivers license, and she is unlikely to have one in the near future. She can walk to a number of places, but she will probably need other options once she gets a job. She lives in an apartment near the lake, but most of the new businesses are located several miles away, close to the freeway. I can drive her some of the time, but she needs regular access to other means of transportation. In Kenosha, that means taking the bus.
I don’t know how efficient the bus system is in Kenosha. In Milwaukee County, where I live, the bus system is slow, but adequate. The problem in the urbanized portion of southeastern Wisconsin is that the various municipal public transit systems do not cooperate. I can drive from our house in Oak Creek to Kenosha in forty-five minutes. For this young woman to get from Kenosha to our house by bus would take several hours. There is no regional public transportation operation. It’s a balkanized collection of transit systems that never connect over county lines. “You can’t get there from here” pretty much sums it up. It almost seems like the local public transit systems are designed to encourage the use of private vehicles. In short, if you can’t drive, you’re screwed.
We went into the Kenosha Transit office. It was almost empty. A woman (the only person in the office) greeted us. We asked to buy a monthly bus pass. The woman from Kenosha Transit said that she would be glad to sell us one. I pulled out my debit card.
The woman looked at me uncomfortably and said,
“We can’t take cards. We can only accept cash or checks.”
Really? This is the 21st Century. Almost everybody on the planet takes a credit and/or debit card. Not only is public transportation inconvenient, but it is apparently difficult to purchase. By sheer coincidence, I had $60 in cash on me, which is the price of a monthly bus pass. If I hadn’t had that money available, then the young woman with me would not have the pass she needs. This is not a good way to do business.
We got her pass, and then we went back to my less-than-reliable Subaru (the car stalls out at inconvenient moments, and the wipers work intermittently). The Transit facility has an tightly packed parking lot, and there was also a truck making a delivery there while I was attempting to back out of my parking space. I started to back up, and then I noticed a shuttle van backing up toward me. I stopped. I could see that the other driver could not see me. He backed up slowly and inexorably toward my beater.
I blurted out, “Goddamit!”
The young woman in the passenger seat yelled,
“BEEP THE HORN! Hurry, beep the horn!”
The driver of the van hit me. We could feel the sickening motion of the Subaru that said, “Oh fuck…”
I got out of the car, as did the van driver. The beauty of driving a beater is that it doesn’t matter if it gets dinged. The other driver looked at his van and at my vehicle. I made it clear to him that I didn’t care. He was very relieved to hear that. He wanted to avoid an incident at all costs. His job probably depended on that. He was all for pretending that nothing ever happened.
The young woman in the Subaru seemed tense. After the van driver pulled away, I backed out, and I made toward the exit of the parking lot. I took a moment to beep the horn.
The girl rolled her eyes and said,
“Well, it’s a little late for that NOW! I would have leaned on that horn!”
She shook her head wearily, and gave me a brief smile.
We both laughed.