Stressing Less with Cherriots
Agatha Brown is Jamaican born and raised. She jokes about having “thin tropical blood” before grabbing her coat and heading outside on a frosty morning in Salem.
Wearing a stylish blue scarf, Brown often flashes a smile and laughs easily. Some of her favorite memories of Jamaica are train rides through the hills on her way to high school. She also grew-up riding buses, often packed to capacity with passengers.
Brown, 62, who came to the United States in the 1980s, doesn’t intend to get off the bus anytime soon. A Cherriots bus helps Brown get to her job at the Oregon Department of State Lands, where she is an auditor for the unclaimed property section.
She briefly tried driving herself to work and renting a parking space, but soon returned to Cherriots.
“It wasn’t money well spent. I have always loved public transportation,” said Brown. She likes riding the bus so much that she usually turns down her husband’s offers to drive her to work during cold, wet weather.
Why she rides
Cars and driving don't interest her and never have. She would rather be a bus passenger than a driver.
“It’s just better for me. I get in and sit on the bus and let my mind wander--that’s not recommended if you’re driving,” Brown said.
Different bus routes have different personalities, Brown said. Passengers on some routes are gregarious and form friendships. On other routes, the riders keep to themselves.
She recently ran into a gentleman she met on the bus at the supermarket. He couldn’t speak a word of English, and Brown’s Spanish is spotty, but that didn’t deter a happy reunion in the grocery aisle with lots of gesturing.
Riding Cherriots has also helped Brown incorporate exercise into her daily routine. The walk between bus stops takes about 19 minutes.
Even though she has a smartphone, Brown prefers old-fashioned paper bus schedules to transit apps and online sites to plan her trips. Her advice to potential Cherriots riders: speak-up and ask questions if you need help.
For the most part, the people Brown has met on Cherriots have been pleasant. Years ago in Salem, however, Brown encountered a woman who refused to move over and let her have the last seat on the bus.
“I told her ‘You’re a lot littler than me. I will sit on you!’” Brown said. The woman decided to move.
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