I am one of Bradley’s many car-less wonders. That’s right, my ID doesn’t open the parking deck gates and an extra set of keys doesn’t adorn my Bradley-approved lanyard.
Like many others on campus, my only personal mode of transportation has been relegated to walking. And trust me, while most days I’m perfectly content with my set of legs, I do sometimes dearly wish they were accompanied by a set of pedals.
Sadly, this yearning for automotive freedom only becomes more pronounced with the looming holidays and school breaks.
While mooching off a few vehicle-friendly pals can get you to the nearest Wal-Mart, it certainly won’t get you a ride back home. Take my word for it, since the blessed college offerings of free food and gas money has yet to work.
This leaves two choices for the homebound student – mom and dad or the bus.
While I’m sure some parents are happy to pick up their precious darlings, mine cite such a rendezvous as impractical and a waste of time. Seeing as they’re footing the bill, who am I to argue?
This leaves a familiar Michel Student Center sight as my only way of hitching a ride back home, the Peoria Charter Coach Company.
While I’ve never had a problem with the bus company’s geriatric crew or its tendency to fudge on the capacity limits, the small feat of sitting in a long red-and-white metal tube for hours on end has never been all that appealing.
Still, if sacrificing both my time and personal space means a trip home, so be it.
But as all Bradley bus veterans know, it’s not at the Peoria pickup points where space is at a premium. Indeed, it’s definitely the dreaded ISU stop in Normal where things get a little cozy.
Us five or so Bradleyites often give a sigh of resignation as these public university students invade the bus like a plague of locusts, with their loads from Subway and luggage stuffing every crevice and their prepaid tickets allowing them to fill every remaining fiesta-patterned seat. While I love my buddies at ISU, there’s a point where even my Bradley bubble has been popped. The sad part is that deep down, I know all my old high school chums are snickering at my expense.
However, there is a light at the end of this sweat-stained and candy-wrapper infested tunnel. Those willing to endure the several hours in a stale and drab corrugated cylinder will be welcomed by their own beds and homemade meals. I don’t know about you, but clean sheets and food outside of Lean Cuisine make any modern-day Inquisition seem like a cinch.
Except all good things must come to an end and the return voyage back to school is undeniably a glaring reminder of it.
Upon entering that small, grimy stairwell and gazing at the multitude of drooping heads across the aisles, you can’t help but feel a bit of dread and pity.
After all, animals don’t like to be caged up, so why would a bunch of college-aged humans?
Even so, crossing the Illinois River and stepping foot onto Bradley’s perfectly manicured lawns does bring both a sense of relief and victory over the evils of mass transportation. While the system has robbed my pocketbook of about $30, it hasn’t gotten away with my soul.
So those making their journeys back home this Fall Break courtesy of Peoria Charter, I’ll be in that stinky bus right there with you. And don’t fret, I’ll even help batten down the hatches when ISU launches its hostile takeover.
Lisa Fitch is a sophomore AEP major from Schaumburg. She is the assistant Voice editor.
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