There’s nothing to teach you patience like public transit. And there’s nothing to teach you empathy like when you have to be patient. Getting on the No. 4 express instead of the regular route meant an hourlong tour of the far reaches of East Brainerd that made me pay attention to the real Chattanooga.
It was an innocent mistake. I looked only at the front sign on the bus, indicating the route number. I didn’t then know to look also at the side panel explaining whether the Hamilton Place-East Brainerd route I was boarding was the regular or the express. The express, I quickly discovered, skips the downtown stretch between EPB and Highland Park, as well as all of Brainerd Road. It instead goes down Market through 23rd and hops up an on-ramp to power through the Ridgecut, taking the interstate all the way to East Brainerd Road.