Yippee! I'm old

The life-changing magic of enjoying a free ride

2 minute read
Dreams of riding the train—for free. (Illustration by Hannah Kaplan for Broad Street Review.)
Dreams of riding the train—for free. (Illustration by Hannah Kaplan for Broad Street Review.)

I just turned 65. Which means…I’m decrepit? Miserable? Over the hill? Nope. It means I can ride Philadelphia public transit for free.

After flying back from California last month, I took SEPTA home from the airport, which, back when I left, would have cost me $12.

Now? It didn’t cost a thing. When the conductor came by to collect my fare, I just flashed my driver’s license and announced, “I’m an old lady!”

He smiled and moved on to the next passenger. She was a woman in her twenties. With her entire life ahead of her! Including years and years of paying for riding the train. But those days are behind me. From now on, I get a free ride.

With age comes wisdom. And wisdom, in my case, means the ability to recognize and fully enjoy the perks that come with my brand-new Elder status. Yes, I’m not as young or quick or coordinated as I used to be. But damned if I can’t go anywhere I want in the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area without paying a cent.

For everything there is a season, right?

Some of my happiest times were riding SEPTA with my son when he was a train-loving little boy. We’d take the Paoli local to the end of the line and then turn around and ride back, just for the fun of it. He’d stand on the seat, face pressed against the window, watching the world go by.

“Life is good,” I’d think, watching him. I couldn’t be happier.”

Those days are long gone, but life is still good.

I’m contented and healthy. I have a solid writing career, a terrific job at my local public library, and I love being a grandma.

My two-year-old grandson adores trains. So far, Benji mostly plays for hours with his large collection of Thomas the Tank Engines and coaches, and enjoys an occasional fun ride with his parents on a local steam train.

Do I look forward to one day taking him on the same train ride to Paoli and back that I took with his father? Absolutely!

Even better? Because he’s a little kid and I’m an old lady, we’ll both get to ride for free.

It could take several years for that to happen, given that Benji and his parents live in California and I live in Philadelphia. But I’m happy to wait.

In the meantime, if you need me, I’ll be taking the train into Center City.

For free.

Because I can.

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