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9/12/04

zone express shuttle

Being in Oakville has changed how I do errands; I can't just walk down the street to buy something. An errand is something that must be planned in advance with nothing forgotten. Meticulous lists must be made and groceries must be hoarded.

I went to buy my bike today. There is officially no public transit on Sundays. So I ended up taking 2 ‘zone express shuttles' which had to be booked 90 minutes in advance and took approximately an hour for what could have been a 15-20 minute trip. I saw the same bus driver as when I took the shuttle from the Go train last night (there is no public transit after 9PM). The drivers and passengers seem to know each other quite well, and chatted with each other, perhaps because it's such a small and specific group of people that take the bus. Bus ride as collective, rather than anonymous experience.

While on the bus, an elderly woman complained about how it took 45 minutes for a 15 minute trip, but it seemed as though she was used to it, or that she'd resigned herself to the fact that she had no choice. I was thinking, why do people put up with this? Are they this marginalized? Is there this much of an association of the car with independent adulthood (and conversely, the infantilizing of those who don't have one)?

I associate this awkwardness with a job search in Kingston, Ontario, one summer, standing in the hot sun waiting for a bus that comes once an hour… or later on, taking the bus out to some industrial park in Halifax to buy supplies. Hot sun and tedium and dehydration, and that tiredness that can only come from commuting.

In his book ‘Non Places: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Supermodernity' Marc Augé writes about the how the industrial revolution and late capitalism (which he terms “supermodernity”) create ‘non-places' which are areas between destination points, the ones you drive by but never stop. On an instinctual level I associate that tedium and tiredness with those non-places.

And yet, there were two women sitting at the bus near the Go Station, who just came from work (they were wearing hospital workers' outfits) who were sitting together, laughing and generally seemed to be having a good time. Can non-places be inhabited as places?