If you are a commuter student at Fontbonne who cannot afford a parking pass, like me, there is a key component to your day to day experience that most residential students do not get the pleasure of experiencing: commuter bus rides. Now, it does depend on the time of day that you get to see the widest array of backgrounds on the bus. However, it only takes three steps up the bus’ stairs to gaze into the eyes of Fontbonne’s diversity. On an average ride from the commuter lot on Clayton Road to Fontbonne’s campus around 9 a.m. on an average Tuesday morning, I am only a few feet away from:
one international student from Beijing, China
three from Saudi Arabia
one from Iraq
a couple of grad students
a basketball player
a soccer player
a baseball player who I most likely would never get close enough to smell had I not taken the bus and sat next to
a softball player
a professor, and
a bearded, non traditional student clearly practicing a speech of some sort.
These are people I would see as I cautiously cross the yellow sidewalks of Fontbonne on any given day. There, the cowardly lion inside begs me not to open my mouth asking their name, or what their day requires of them. But when I am on that 4 wheeled diesel, I cannot help but open my mouth to discover those things. As I walk up those stairs, I have on my red, glittery slippers. I take a seat. I’m inquisitive as I remember that the clock is ticking before the Wizard parks the bus in front of Ryan Hall.
Typically I open a conversation with a joke or a compliment. One particular instance I started an exchange with a baseball player when we both chuckled from witnessing a poor woman in a car beside us spilling food on her blouse. I later came to find out that we knew a few of the same people from high school. On another occasion I offered an international student a ride back to Cotta Hall when it was raining so she would not have to walk home without an umbrella. We ended up swapping phone numbers, and are currently still friends. These are just a couple examples of what can happen on a commuter bus without the walls of the academic buildings limiting the probability of meeting new people.
I am beyond thankful that I attend to a school with such a welcoming and diverse atmosphere. I used to never think there were perks to being a low income student, but when I am on that bus, the culture and the opportunity to learn as much as I can in seven minutes about someone new, is worth more than buying a parking pass.