Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Musings from a bus

In theory, I am a firm supporter of public transit. I think it's good to reduce the number of cars on the road, public transit for me is definitely cheaper than maintaining a car, I don't have to worry about weather or traffic and can just settle in with a book and my iPod, and I am willing most of the time to deal with the increased inconvenience of not having a car in order to be a good citizen and save money. But there are definitely times when I hate, hate, HAAAAATE taking the bus. And as I think about it, I realize that 90% of that is because of the other idiots who take public transit as well. And I'm not even talking about people like the ladies I overheard last year talking about how they refused to take the #2 bus anymore because of all the, and I quote, "coloured people" who ride that route nowadays (the girl sitting next to me and I exchanged the most perfect raised eyebrow "Whaaaaaaa?" look when we heard that), but just your general garden variety urban assholes.

I have long thought these Urban Asshole Notification Cards were inspired, and wished I had the guts to order a pack or two and use them. But I think we need to make up ones specifically for users of public transit. Violations would include:

1) Getting on an empty bus with only one other person and sitting down directly beside that other person. Sure, just like sitting next to the only other person in a movie theatre, there is nothing specifically rude or wrong about sitting where you want to sit, but why bypass all the other empty seats in order to be in someone else's personal space?

1b) Taking up more than your allotted space when you do sit next to someone. Now, I'm a big girl, I realize this, but when I am sharing a seat on the bus with someone I make every effort to make myself as small as possible and not intrude on my seatmate. And that includes making sure my purse and any other bags stay on my side of the dividing line. Men who sit with their legs spread and slouched down in their seats? That doesn't make your penis any bigger, sorry.

2) Conversely, the bus is packed and people are standing in the aisles, and yet somehow your backpack still needs its own seat. There better be an original of the Magna Carta in that backpack, because otherwise I'm not understanding what, exactly, is so special about it. Move it, asshole, and let someone sit down.

3) Getting on the bus and standing in the aisle directly behind the driver, instead of moving further back. Forcing everyone who wants to get on or off the bus to squeeze past you.

4) Wearing a backpack while standing in the aisle ... you are guaranteed to be smacking someone who is seated in the head with that backpack every time you move.

5) Waiting until you are on the bus to start looking for your pass/fare. You have been standing at the bus stop for ten minutes, putz. Why do you now need to hold up a line of people waiting to get on the bus while you fumble through every last pocket (and they are invariably wearing cargo pants with eleventy billion pockets)? Minus an extra ten points if you do this on a rainy day, making everyone else behind you wait in the rain.

6) Carrying on a loud conversation, either with a companion or on your cell phone. Nobody cares, nobody wants to hear it. Keep your voice down.

7) Testing all the different ring tones on your cell phone. Yes, faithful readers, I have seen this more than once. Sure, it's something to do to occupy yourself on a long bus ride. Too bad you're going to burn in hell.

8) Plopping down in one of the priority seats at the front of the bus, pulling out a book and studiously ignoring the elderly, disabled or pregnant riders who get on after you. You're able bodied and healthy -- be thankful for that and let someone who needs it have the seat.

9) Carrying on a lengthy conversation with the driver about anything other than the route or what stop you need. He or she is doing a very difficult job, and has the lives of many other people in his or her hands. No one cares what movie you saw last night or your thoughts on the current political climate in Ontario. Let the driver do his or her job without distraction or irritation.

In short, sit in your seat, keep quiet, don't intrude on other people and be courteous to those around you. You wouldn't really think it would be that hard, eh?

Tune in next week when we continue our lessons in how not to be an urban asshole, with sessions on elevator ettiquette and "Sidewalks: For walking, not gawking ... or biking."


Darklight said...

I haven't ridden the bus in years, but this made me laugh hard.

What I wonder is why are we as a society so afraid to confront these assholes (in a polite way). Why do we rarely see someone say "excuse me, could you please move your backpack?" Interesting.

Serdic said...

I think some members of modern society are less polite than cavemen... after all, we generally don't crush the skulls of those who offend us.

What would Jesus do? said...

#2 - I'd move their bag for them. Seriously, I would.
#8 - there should be a fine. And, I'm not talking $50 - more like $2500.

What would Jesus do? said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Reading this made me miss Toronto and the TTC. I got most of my reading done while "riding the rocket". I miss the subway smell. I really do.

Kiy said...

Girl, omg. I laughed and laughed, then remembered riding the bus and subway in DC, and laughed some more. I remember those days. And I don't miss grocery shopping via subway at all. I do miss the hustle and bustle of the city though. Sometimes.

Kiy said...

P.S. I wish I had the guts to order (and hand out) cards like that too. Well, if I was riding the bus. I could take away Jeff's motorcycle so HE could ride the bus and hand out the cards though. Hmmmm.....