The Barista's Tale - Zena Greenawald Profile

Photo of Zena Greenawald

Behind the counter at Capitol Coffee, Zena Greenawald serves lattes and mochas, fueling government workers and other denizens of downtown Salem.

Greenawald, a petite 18-year-old, enjoys banter with customers. One of the regulars, who stops by for a cookie, reminds her of a Dr. Seuss character because of his bushy mustache.

“If you sprayed him orange, he’d be The Lorax,” she said.

Greenawald, the middle child in a family of five siblings, loves theater and art. A tattoo, based on one of her drawings, stretches across her forearm: an arrow with the slogan “Little Warrior.”

The barista with a beaming smile uses Cherriots to get to her job. She started riding Cherriots as a high school freshman and never stopped.

Cherriots provides reliable transportation for many teenagers and young adults like Greenawald. About 35 percent of Cherriots riders are high school or college students, according to a ridership survey completed in 2017.

Why she rides

Why ride Cherriots? For Greenawald, it’s a matter of money and the environment.

She works a part-time job in Salem while being a full-time student at Oregon State University, where she is enrolled in OSU’s Natural Resources program.

Last fall, she purchased her first car to make twice-weekly trips to the OSU campus in Corvallis. Greenawald still chooses Cherriots to reach most destinations in Salem unless the weather is exceedingly cold or wet.

“When I drive my car, I think about how much gas I am wasting and how much I am contributing to Co2 emissions,” Greenawald said.

Compared to the cost of driving, bus fare is a bargain, she said. The Cherriots youth fare, available to riders ages 6 to 18, costs half as much as a full fare ride. A 30-day youth pass costs $22.50.

“It’s a good, decent price. It gets me everywhere from Point A to Point B,” Greenawald said. She also doesn’t have to worry about the city’s parking patrol slapping a citation on her car’s windshield.


Greenawald said she was intimidated the first few times she rode Cherriots. Like many new riders, she wasn’t familiar with the basics, such as how to pay for bus fare.

But there’s not much of a learning curve to become a bus rider, and information is available on the website.

“Get on the bus, put your money in and sit down. It’s not that bad,” Greenawald said. Just remember to keep a bus schedule handy and know the route, she said.

--Michael Rose

Do you have a great story about riding Cherriots or have a suggestion for a rider profile? Contact us at