Greyhound Social Justice

My dear friend and former roommate Jen called me and told me that she and her new husband, Ismael, who is a man from Niger, (I just learned how to differentiate a person from Nigeria and a person from Niger: Nigerian= from Nigeria, Nigerien=from Niger.) were buying a car in Portland. She told me that Ismael, who lives in Mt. Vernon, WA would be riding down on Greyhound and  she would be flying in from Las Vegas, where she is teaching, and could I pick her up from the airport and him from the bus station? Of course I said yes because that’s what I do. You call me? I show up.
To add some background to this story, I happen to loathe the Greyhound Bus company. I am not alone either, just google “greyhound sucks” and enjoy.  I am certain they exploit those who can not afford other means of travel by offering false departure times and available space on their buses. They force those who are “fortunate” to get on a bus, to ride in conditions that are often below those of city bus standards and use bathrooms that have not been cleaned in this century. Their stations are often in disrepair and their employees are anything but helpful. I hate anyone and anything that takes advantage of people due to their economic status.
As part of my theology, I believe that salvation isn’t just about a future in heaven but also about redemption for today. I believe Jesus cares about our situations  and it’s our job as believers to get involved to help make their plight less difficult in the name of Christ’s love. Social Justice is a blanket term that was coined based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is an overwhelming problem and difficult to determine where and how to be involved in a solution.
So back to Jen and Ismael, on the day they were to arrive, I received multiple text messages from Jen regarding Ismael’s arrival time. It went from 4 pm, to 10 pm to 9 pm , then 12 am. As I picked Jen up from the airport at 10:30 pm, she told me that poor Ismael had left at 9 am from Mt. Vernon, had gotten onto a bus bound for Seattle and had been waiting in the Seattle station since 2 pm. He had been forced to buy an additional ticket, due to the fact that the ticket he originally bought, on a bus that would have had him arriving at 10 pm was full when it arrived and they wouldn’t allow a transfer to another bus even though it was Greyhound’s mistake that there was no space on the bus for him. He had been waiting in the Seattle station for 8 hours to get on a bus. Now Ismael being Nigerien, English is not his first language. Being that he is an exceptionally smart human being, English isn’t even his second language, it is his sixth language. So here is poor Ismael trying to make the 5 hour trek to Portland and it is taking him almost 14 hours. When I picked Jen up from the airport she told me that Ismael would be arriving at 4 in the morning in Portland. That is nearly 19 hours of travel time for trip that should ideally only take 5-6. My innate sense of justice was fuming and I looked at Jen and said, “We’re going to get him.” She protested and I explained to her that it was ludicrous that her poor husband who she hadn’t seen in months, would have to wait two more hours to get on a bus at midnight that would deposit him in Portland at 4 am when we could drive up and back to get him in the same amount of time. So that’s what we did, we headed to Seattle and intercepted Ismael at a bus station in Centralia after chasing him down the freeway because his bus driver wouldn’t stop for him in Olympia. His poor nightmare saga would end with him purchasing a car in Portland so that he will hopefully never have to deal with Greyhound again.
I tell you this story to let you know that you don’t have to make large sweeping changes. You just have to make changes. You have to stand up and say, no this isn’t right, in the situations that the Lord puts you in. Find ways to right the wrongs that have been accepted by our culture and do it in the name of the love that never fails.

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One thought on “Greyhound Social Justice

  1. I love and miss you more than you could imagine, and you somehow manage to continue to inspire me from hundreds of miles away. You ARE the change we want to see in the world. You’re good people, Gardell.

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