In the public transportation system, getting to work and back is considered especially heinous. In the Twin Cities, a dedicated young worker who utilizes the transit system is a member of an elite squad known as the Public Transport Unit. This is his story. *Doink Doink*
By Douglas Byrne (Transit Passenger)
"Hey! Get your ass behind the yellow line!" - Annie, Speed
I leave my house, trudge the 1.5 blocks through a combination of the following weather conditions: sun, sleet, snow, spitting rain. I anxiously wait to see the bus lumbering around the corner, and hop aboard while muttering a week "Morning," to any of the four drivers I typically see. (I am nothing until I get caffeine into my system.)
Because my stop is the first on the route, I have the luxury of sitting in the exact same seat. Every day. Choosing a seat on the bus is a science that I've carefully studied for close to twenty years. Allow me to explain:
You don't want to sit too close to the front because a disabled person might board, in which case you'll need to move (which is fine, I just don't want my book-reading interrupted). Also, let's be honest, the front gives the crazies direct access to you. You don't want to sit too far back, because eventually the bus will be filled to capacity, at which point exiting becomes a challenge and will involve dancing (read: rubbing up against) with a lot of strangers. Also, the front and back of the bus have side-facing seats, which can be disasterous if the driver has even the softest of brake feet. I can't tell you the number of times I've ended up in the lap of the person next to me all, all because of a brake slam. Sitting too close to the door can mean cold gusts of air every two blocks and the center just gets stuffy.
All that being said, I have Seat of Glory (highlighted in the diagram below). It's readily exit-able, and doesn't attract too much wind or crazy person(s).
Now, snagging the Seat of Glory does not automatically make you immune from the basic insanity that happens on an almost daily basis on the bus. As a result, I overhear and oversee some really wonderful things. Here is conversation I overheard recently:
Female Passenger #1: It's just not fair that he gets to, and I don't. It's such a double-edged sword and I don't know if I can...
Female Passenger #2: Wait, don't you mean "double standard"?
Female Passenger #1: Yes, that's what I meant. Can I finish my story now, bitch?
Not long after that, I overheard this conversation:
Male Passenger #1: (to his two friends, at the conclusion of a twenty-minute story) So, after having convinced myself that she was "the one," I was forced to call it off.
Friend #1: What was the final straw?
Male Passenger #1: I realized we were of two different religions. I was Christian; she was a bitch.
People really do like to use the word "bitch" on the bus. A lot.
They also like to drink.
A man sat next to me once who, by my estimation, had been drinking since dawn the morning before. Now, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure (100%) he was homeless, as evidenced by his wheely cart full of treasures/junk and the delightful aroma of booze and stale cigarettes. After the bus started up again, he pulled a two-liter bottle of Karkov (yes, some people are on a budget!) from a bag that was nestled in his cart, two-thirds already gone. He managed to finish the bottle before exiting the bus, roughly fifteen minutes later.
For some, mass transit is an experiment in terror or a good reason to be in therapy. For me, it's a reason to smile. And laugh. And take joy in the fact that I am (relatively) sane.