Making ‘smart’ choices

When it comes to "smart choices," everyone's decisions inevitably affect everyone elses.

Katharine Hargreaves

As most college students have been continually warned by our parents, life is about making smart choices. However, what mother doesn’t know is that following this motto is easier said than done.

“Smart” is a relative term. For some of us, making wise choices may mean not doing drugs, or choosing to not eat at McDonalds when heartburn is already our middle name. In other words, big choices that will potentially have drastic effects on the way people live their everyday life.

Then, on the other hand, there are others whose “smart choices” are simply matters of trying to get through their day alive. Their decisions – while worthwhile to them, mind you -are based on whether or not they should change their underwear more than once a week? Or should they eat that suspicious corn dog they found in the back of the meat drawer of the refrigerator? And my all-time favorite: Can Windex clean contact lenses too?

When it comes down to it, I’m not one to judge. I like to think of myself as occupying a middle ground, in that while I have decided on many occasions to wear a seatbelt, for instance, on others I chose to skip class in order to dance around to the Spice Girls alone. We’ve all been there.

The reason I mention all this is that one of the decisions I make on a daily basis – and which has had quite an impact on my ho-hum life – is whether or not I should drive my car to school, or take the bus.

Normally, I would agree with all you earth-huggers out there: the bus is best! No more greenhouse gases! Reduce traveling times! Mass transit is the answer!

But is it?

I ride the bus very often, and considering the fact that someone else is driving and paying for gas, do I really have the right to complain about the man next to me talking to his purse?

The thing is, it’s hard for me to be an advocate of a system that has so many far-reaching positive results, and yet is unable to guarantee a pleasant ride for 99 percent of its customers.

Sure, the novelty at first is quaint, even amusing at times. Everyone likes a good story to tell at parties, and trust me, I have some good ones. I’ve been pressured to buy used socks and cheap incense, been privy to conversations best saved for a gynecologist or a shrink and had my shoes barfed on. I’ve been leered at, burped at, yelled at, and reprimanded by the bus driver for something so ridiculous that I won’t even bore you with the details.

I ride the bus because it’s cheaper and more efficient, but there’s a multitude of reasons to do so.

My point is, when it comes to “smart choices,” everyone’s decisions inevitably affect everyone else for the most part. If we don’t make them for ourselves, then we should at least keep in mind our fellow passengers – if only because we all have to ride and no one wants to sit next to the man with the paper-bag pants and the blow-up doll.

Kat Hargreaves welcomes comments at [email protected]