The Unexpected Beauty of Riding the RTA

Growing up, it was instilled in me that no matter where you go in life, you will always find good people, and it’s truly all a matter of looking for them. This concept is one that I carry with me today as I begin new chapters of my young adult life. 

This fall, I began my first semester at Cleveland State University, which also meant I was to be a recurrent passenger on the school’s bus line. I use the RTA to go to and from CSU, home and work, routinely throughout the week. 

As someone who is a frequent rider, I become familiar with my fellow passengers and RTA drivers as the days pass. It’s quite the diverse group, might I add: elders, young people, professors, city workers, high-income and low-income people. There is a real sense of humility that all too often is lost in societies today. 

I have to be honest in saying that I didn’t know what to expect when I took the bus for the very first time. Contrary to what I envisioned in my head, the virtue of respect and civility was immensely felt. People from profoundly different backgrounds sharing seats, indulging in meaningful conversations and showing empathy for each other.

As the weeks progressed, I began to understand the sense of community that was the shore-way bus. 

I’ve been very fortunate in that I have connected with a handful of people as I go along these rides. One of the most prominent is an academic that I regularly chat with on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. The conversations are among the most complex and insightful, oddly comparable to the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, minus some few major factors. 

Tuesdays with Morrie is a New York Times bestseller that tells of life’s greatest lessons known to mankind. Morrie is a retired sociology professor who shares his life’s worth of wisdom with a former student, as his time on earth is slowly fleeting. The intrinsic values of meaningful relationships, love and finding comfort in the unknown are heavily present throughout each chapter. 

Equivocally to the beloved memoir, the academic and I share a mirror-like dynamic to the book. To add on, sociology is a focal point of our conversations. We speak of society’s most thought-provoking questions in hopes to challenge our own beliefs. It is the perfect representation of meaningful connection between two generations of people. I leave each discussion with an abundance of newly gained knowledge and a sense of intriguement.

Each time, as he gets off the bus, he brings our discussions to a close by saying, “The best to you,” which perfectly displays the kindness and civility we all wish to see. 

This whole thing is admittedly bizarre, but, ultimately, comes back to the lesson that I was taught as a kid. When you seek out good people, you will find them. I believe the “Full House” theme song sums up that concept well. Along with that, in our search and discovery of good people, we gain human connection, which has the ability to enhance our day-to-day lives and teach us other valuable lessons.

It is truly astounding, the beauty that comes from the connections we make—not just on the bus, but everywhere. 

There has been an abundance of heinous atrocities all around the world that have undoubtedly overwhelmed us all, especially over the last few weeks. The feeling of division among societies is profound and often leads to us forgetting about the good in people.

My advice is to remember that they are everywhere. It’s all a matter of looking for them.

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