PORTLAND — In early December of last year, I decided to start taking the Metro bus to work. The decision was an easy one, as my wife and I had recently downsized to one car and scheduling issues were becoming increasingly difficult. Plus, it had become impossible to find parking on Stevens Avenue during the school year.

I had checked the bus schedules online and discovered that bus routes 2 and 3 were both options and that each would only require a short walk to reach my office.

So, armed with a printed bus schedule and a bunch of 10-ride tickets, I set out on a six-month adventure to use only the public bus transportation to commute to work. Along the way, I learned several things about the bus, the city and myself that I would like to share.

Poetry in motion: Sprinkled amidst the posters that explain the rules of bus ridership is poetry. My favorite poem on the bus was an excerpt from Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope.”

A poem of hope seemed very relevant as we braved the snow and cold this winter. I was so impressed with this poem that I took a picture of the poem and texted it to my stepdaughter. Turns out she had memorized the poem years ago and texted back to me the remaining verses. Inspiration and reflection can be found on the bus.

Time is actually a guideline: The bus guidelines warn that the bus may be as much as 10 minutes early. Not posted within the guidelines is the fact that afternoon buses can run as much as 40 minutes late.

My fellow bus commuters know this about the bus and, as such, confirm the concept that time is, in fact, a social construction. Social constructions of time are frustrating depending on the patience of your employer or family members.

Coat, mittens, boots. Check!: Once, and only once, in February while rushing out of the house, I realized I had forgotten my mittens. I complained about my oversight to my coworkers, friends and anyone who would listen that day.

During the afternoon ride home, with heavy snow falling, I shared the bus stop at the corner of Waverly Street and Forest Avenue with a fellow rider who was clad in open-toed shoes and a lightweight jacket. As we commiserated about the weather, I realized she did not choose to wear these items but, rather, these were what she owned for winter attire. It’s easy to take for granted your own winter clothing choices, when you have a choice.

Pay attention: When I was paying attention and not poking at my cellphone, I discovered that there are some really interesting businesses tucked away along the bus routes. Interesting ethnic grocery stores, cafes, small bakeries and shops. I realized that when I was driving the same route, I missed a lot of the color and culture that Portland has to offer.

Pay attention, and the city will open up to you.

The great social equalizer: Whether is 10 degrees below zero as we stand at the Metro Pulse or 55 degrees and sunny at Congress and Frederic streets, my fellow riders and I are all equal when we step on the bus. Our worlds diverge – significantly, in some ways – once we pull the signal cord and step off the bus. The bus is not a social place or a place to socialize, but for a 20-minute ride, or even a few bus stops, we are all the same.

As the weather improves, my days of bus travel are drawing to a close. Biking and walking will be much more practical in the coming months.

I will miss the rhythm and my Metro adventure: The changing season of a bitter winter and the greening of spring; the walk through the Old Port to Metro Pulse; the friendly greeting from the bus driver and earnest nods from other commuters already seated.

I will miss the silent wait with my fellow travelers; the different bus stops.

Mostly, I will miss the poetry found not only on the poetry in motion posters on the bus but also in its passengers, sights and sounds.

— Special to the Press Herald