Ode to commuting: A student’s emotional ride to campus

Maya Shen/Staff

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When Berkeley housing-market hope is lost,

All beds would break the bank, yet none are free,

I’ve got a way to vastly slash the cost

Of going to this university.

It’s not the most convenient way there,

But now it’s burned for all time in my brain

A Tracy bus takes me to Dublin BART

Get on, get off to switch paths at Bay Fair

At Downtown Berkeley, off this crazy train

My commute’s song, I know it all by heart


I wake, ungodly early, most the week

To reach a bus I see before the sun

Then realize, oh wait, there’s the Mantec-

-a. Shiver waiting for another one.

I go straight to the back, for if I don’t,

The cracked asphalt will throw me 50 ways,

My head will throb from every sudden stop,

And when I need to focus, my brain won’t.

Which only gets worse on those cursed days

When traffic’s denser than a Springfield cop.


The bus itself is a strange TV show,

Its riders part of a rotating cast.

And unannounced, we come and then we go

No fanfare for our first ride, nor our last.

One guy’s creepy, but I can’t pin down why,

Maybe he puts too much gel in his hair.

One guy in nice Nikes seems cool, but you

Can’t just chat up strangers — that doesn’t fly.

For if you do, you risk a confused air

When they see you on BART and want more talking-to.


There’s not much to see as the bus rides on.

It’s windmills, grass, and cows — but little else.

At minimum, by Livermore, we’ve gone

20 minutes since the opening bells.

And that’s if we’re lucky. We never are.

Sometimes it’s all clogged, even in downtown.

And time becomes an abstract memory

As we stay stuck like every other car

And self-proclaimed king drivers weave, but wear no crown,

Slowing down everyone they cannot see.


And then, once I get off, the next phase of

The long journey to Berkeley must begin.

BART and I might not quite fit like a glove,

But slowdowns there aren’t quite so big a sin.

Though trains stall in MacArthur far too long,

And outdoor station winds may chill my bones,

And standing room trains make a painful squeeze,

It seems that here, less things can go so wrong.

I’m much more used to the familiar tones.

No traffic means no half-hour freeze.


But BART still has its own insanity,

Like when “The train doors are obstructed” rings

Seven times in a row, though all can see

There really are no such obstructive things.

Or when the doors simply refuse to close

For five minutes, though we are all sardines,

Then wait for ten to open the next time.

MacArthur nights give me unending woes

As trains await what simply will not be

And drag my rides out longer than this rhyme.


It seems, this time, I’ve finally caught a break.

Next semester, I’ll have a place out here.

I’m confident this will be no mistake —

No more commutes? I doubt I’ll shed a tear.

No more arising ‘fore the crack of dawn.

No more “I can’t go. I can’t miss the train.”

No more two hours just to get to class.

And though most home-cooked meals will soon be gone,

Once freeway blockage no more drains my brain

My fresher mind will give that fact a pass.

Contact Connor Bunnell at [email protected].

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