Return of the DART Queen

18 Nov

DFWDARTFor the first time in a year, I rode the train last night. Clad in a short sweater dress, knee high boots and thigh high fishnet stockings, I should have known better. As soon as I crossed the platform to nab a ticket, a man approached. Hs words I don’t recall: I just remember the sense of my personal space being invaded. I summoned my toughest sass and asked him to back up. He complied and began to ramble about how he wanted to know my name so he could tattoo it on his neck.

For the first two years of my move back to Dallas, this was my world. Today I look back on it with awe. My first job after college was as a salesgirl for Ann Taylor. I had a love-hate relationship with the place. Surrounded by its beauty and the successful women who wore it day after day to the endless droning of mall music was such a beautiful nightmare. As I folded the sumptuous sweaters and shirts, scooped the dazzling dresses and blazers off the floor, I prayed for the day I would be able to afford them without the employee discount.

Every morning and night, a platoon of workers donning black or uniforms bearing their respective employers insignias marched to and from the train station. Back then, the shuttle began an hour after the earliest shift and ended an hour before the latest shift ended. Feet sore from trotting briskly up and down the store, mouth worn from too many “How may I help yous,” the mind-numbing rode to and from work was my sanctuary, where I dreamed of finding work that challenged me and longed for a car of my own. It was my own fault, I admitted. Too many drinks and parties and too few interviews. I didn’t go on any before I graduated with my Bachelors. I just couldn’t get excited about a corporate job in a cubicle or office. And hoped that something would simply come my way once I moved back home.

After a year of retail paradise, I summoned the courage to try something I might actually like: writing. All it took was push from a friend who worked in the Writing Center in college. I’d always dreamed of becoming a writer. But figured it wasn’t feasible. Here, the bus was my ally. I took it everywhere: to the Dallas City Hall where I sat in on council meetings, to Dallas I S D Board Meetings and yes, to interviews with some of the city’s biggest leaders. I was determined. And a bit embarrassed.

When writing didn’t pan out, I landed a job with one of the nation’s largest insurers. Its corporate headquarters was two hours away via public transportation. For two months, I left the house at 5 in the morning and returned after 6 in the evening. It was brutal. As soon as my training was over, I bought my car, Jazzy the Jetta and promised myself I would never have to ride the bus or train again. I paid her off last month.

Yet here I was, chugging along on the DART train. Grateful for the journey, grateful for growth and grateful that then, riding the train was a choice of convenience and not necessity. It kept me humble, hungry and fighting.  Some days I wonder if I’ve gotten soft, comfortable, and have become one of those women in a bubble that I used to sell suits and sweaters to. A ride every now and then back to public transportation roots may be the remedy.  



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