"Graham at Vaughan. The Bay,” the anonymous, overhead female voice says. Her words are my alarm clock: It’s time to truly start my day.
Since I moved to Winnipeg from the Interlake in November, my daily commute has involved the bus stops at Graham Avenue and Vaughan Street.
Every morning while attending university, I would wait for Anonymous Woman's voice to signal me to pull the yellow wire and alert the bus driver -- who is completely underappreciated -- to stop so I can get off and get to class. Every afternoon -- after courses, studying and a bit too much coffee -- I would make my way down Portage Avenue, through the Bay and out to Vaughan to wait at the northbound stop: my favourite place in Winnipeg.
Not only is it important to be aware of your surroundings for safety reasons, forgetting to notice other people is an injustice
Learning how to navigate this city's transit lifestyle hasn't been easy for a gal who was used to walking to school, work and every one of her friends' houses in 10 minutes or less. I can tell you exactly how it feels to watch your bus drive away when you're 300 metres from the stop, or how, in our winter months, your toes and fingertips are the first body parts to lose feeling during the 20-minute wait that inevitably follows.
I have learned many lessons at my bus stop, such as "be on time, because the world won't wait for you," and I'm sure my fellow riders can attest to such realizations.
What makes the northbound stop special to me is it's constantly alive with characters. It isn't a day at Graham and Vaughan without fellow students in trendy outfits who grasp their Tim's double-double like a lifeline, the granny with so many shopping bags from the Bay she takes up an entire bench in the bus shelter, or the little girl who, despite being in downtown Winnipeg, has managed to gather a bouquet of wildflowers she grips tightly in her tiny fist.
The thing about these characters is you have to look up from your phone or iPod to notice them. I'll admit there are days I don't even register familiar faces because I'm so wrapped up in the Songza playlist I'm listening to or what someone posted on Twitter 47 seconds ago. I'm so involved in my virtual world, I often forget to step outside and focus on what and who is around me. The most valuable lesson my bus stop has taught me? Wake up, Samson. Not only is it important to be aware of your surroundings for safety reasons, forgetting to notice other people is an injustice.
Technology has made it so easy to be self-involved (Is this the right lighting for a selfie? I wonder if my ex has seen my subtweet?), I am guilty of ignoring other humans that are in my presence.
This isn't to say technology has no place in my life, as I am just as attached to my cellphone as the next person. What my bus stop has never failed to remind me, however, is technology has a place in my life and should not be a constant.
Are these ideas a little philosophical? Of course. I'm a student of the University of Winnipeg. But that's what I love the most about my bus stop at Graham and Vaughan: This seemingly mundane place has given me the gifts of some of the most important lessons I've learned outside of a classroom.
All I had to do was unplug to wake up.
Samantha Samson attends the joint degree/diploma communications program at the University of Winnipeg. You can find her riding the bus or on Twitter at @ssshipwrecks.