Ridership on the bus is way up now that gas prices are over $4.00/gallon. I think it’s great that more people are looking at alternatives to driving. But since a lot of riders are new to the bus, I thought I’d write a bit about bus culture and how not to offend everyone else on the bus. What prompted this? Uh…the guy who offended everyone on the bus on the way home tonight. I don’t know if he’s a bus newbie, but geez, he could use a lesson in etiquette.
Why don’t I start at the beginning and describe everything he did?
He got on at the station downtown, as did I. The bus was on time, maybe even a minute or two early. It was a shift change for the drivers, and the new driver was waiting on the platform before the bus arrived. When it arrived, the wheelchair ramp folded out, and the old driver went to unbuckle the handicapped passenger while the new driver set up her stuff and adjusted her seat. While they were doing that, Mr. Surly said, “I better get a seat on this damn thing.” I looked around. There was a fair sized crowd, but not even enough to half fill the bus yet. What was he worried about?
It took maybe a minute and a half for them to finish with the passenger and the shift switch off. During that time he continued grumbling about getting a seat and how they should hurry up. The friend he was talking to seemed to be more experienced with the bus and said something like, “I’ve learned no matter how much you want things to go quick, it just takes how long it takes. You gotta have patience.” Mr. Surly’s response was, “I’m not a doctor. I don’t have patients.”
The ramp went up and we got on the bus. He and his friend sat across the aisle from each other in separate seats, each taking up an entire seat, continuing their conversation, but sitting far enough away from each other that they had to talk loud enough for everyone on the bus to hear. What is it with guys? Are you afraid if you sit together in the same seat people will think you’re gay? Can’t one of you sit in the seat in front of the other then if you’re going to talk to each other? If you’re sitting far enough away from each other that you can’t speak in a normal conversational tone, shut up.
He complained about one of the young women in the back of the bus after she mentioned something happening a “long long time ago,” as if she had no right to use that phrase merely because she was young. I hadn’t even heard her say it even though I was sitting closer to her than he was. I imagine everyone on the bus heard him complaining about her though. I moved back a few seats to try to get away from his negativity, but he was just too loud.
Mr. Surly complained the whole way that this was “taking forever.” Uh. No, it wasn’t. There were no delays at all. What was his problem? Then he complained to his friend, “this is the worst fucking route there is!” His friend replied, “no, they’re all like this.”
It became clear what his problem was when he began to throw up his arm in exasperation every time someone pulled the cord to signal a stop request. With each stop he grew more exasperated. You could see it in his whole body. Finally I signaled my stop, and as I expected, he threw up his arm in disgust. I walked to the back door and said, “That’s right, dude, I’m getting off the bus. That’s how the bus works. People get on, and people get off. Did you think it was only gonna stop for you, like you’re special? That’s not how it works.”
The woman who had been sitting in the seat in front of me thanked me.
So, basically, don’t act like that guy.
I am not in the habit of telling people off. Really. And I could have said a whole lot more to that guy. Hoo boy. A lot more.
Based on various factors, he paid anywhere from nothing to $1.00 for that bus ride. A bus ride is not a private taxi ride. If he wants to pay an arm and a leg for a taxi, he’s welcome to. Or he could walk, or ride a bike. I imagine there’s a reason he’s not driving, and I wouldn’t recommend driving, but if he thinks the bus is so awful, well, compare it to other options. Is it really so awful? What’s so awful about it? The fact that other people ride it? That you’re not the singular solitary passenger? Dude, get over yourself.
If you’re going to ride the bus, accept that other people will be riding it too, and that they have the same rights as you do. Accept that there is a timetable, and it will tell you what time you will be reaching your destination. Even if no one stops along the way, the bus can’t pass the scheduled timepoints earlier than scheduled. Think about it: how would you like it if you showed up at a bus stop where a bus was scheduled to be at a certain time and nope, no bus, because it passed by a minute earlier, so even though you were at the stop on time, and that was the published scheduled time it would be there, you’ve got to wait another half hour now? You’d be pretty pissed. That’s why the bus has to wait at those points until the scheduled time before it can move on.
And yeah, you’ve got to have patience. I think it’s a matter of attitude. To me, if I’m waiting for the bus, it’s just not that big a deal. It will be here when it gets here. Whenever it arrives, here it is. And when I’m riding it, it’s not something that takes time; it gives me time. It gives me time to knit. Time is a gift.
I suspect Mr. Surly isn’t just unhappy about the bus though; he’s probably just an unhappy person in general, finding fault with everything. I feel a bit sorry for him when I think about him that way. What’s troubling is I see a little bit of him in myself, in a past me when I was a very unhappy person, seeing the negative side of everything. An Eeyore. I don’t think I was ever that obnoxious though. I sincerely hope not. If I ever was, I apologize to everyone I offended.
I’m so glad I’m happier now. Folks, antidepressants work. Some people seem to have this idea that they wipe all your quirks away and turn you into some kind of bland Stepford whatever. No, they just turn you into a functioning human being who can actually enjoy life, which is a lot better than a non-functioning bitch who cries half the day, you know?