Growing up, our family didn’t have a car, so my brothers, sisters and I became speedy walkers and skilled public transportation users. Fortunately, Seattle’s temperate weather makes both those modes of getting around easy and comfortable throughout the year. When I moved to Mpls, I became accustomed to, and eventually dependent on, cars for transportation – partly because of their convenience, but also because they afford protection from the extremes of the weather in the Midwest -and there-in lies a story.
Since I was familiar with using city buses in Seattle, I didn’t have much trouble learning the bus routes around Mpls. I was glad that I was able to find employment at a downtown hospital almost immediately after I moved, and soon found the buses that I would use to get to and from work. I knew the vagaries of bus schedules, the changes that came with evening hours, holidays and weekends, and was familiar with how to make transfers and the like. But I didn’t understand the challenges that weather could bring to bus travel, and my first winter riding the bus in the Twin Cities was a major life-lesson.
In Seattle, winter boots and gloves are a fashion statement; they are meant to look good, but aren’t necessarily meant to serve any practical purpose. So, on the first below-zero morning of my life, as I stood alone at the bus stop in downtown Mpls waiting to make my last transfer on the way to work, I was dressed for winter according to Seattle rather than Mpls standards. I was already cold when I exited the bus I rode for the first half of my trip to the hospital; the second bus was 15 minutes late when it finally pulled up. I was blue with cold by that time, and more than ready to climb aboard the bus when it pulled up. But when the door opened, the driver looked at me and said, “I am sorry, Miss. I cannot fit any more riders on this bus. You will have to wait for the next one.” Then the door closed and the bus drove on. I was flabbergasted! And I was freezing. I knew it would be at least another 15 minutes before the next bus came by. Could I – could ANYONE – possibly stand out on this windy, icy street for almost an hour and not be frozen stiff? As miserable as it was, I had no choice but to wait for the next bus to arrive. By the time I got to work I was 45 minutes late, numb with cold and wondering what frostbite looked like. I knew I had experienced my first “Minnesota Cold” winter day. In addition, I knew that when I got my next paycheck I was going to buy articles of clothing that were designed to keep bodies warm and well covered when out of doors in winter. So much for fashion! I wanted protective equipment to deal with the elements from then on. LESSON LEARNED! , and never forgotten to this day – true story.