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Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Ride the Bus

The bus. The great equalizer. A rolling opportunity for either tree-hugging optimism or embracing your curmudgeonly side.

Me, I can go either way. Some days, I am almost smug with self-congratulations. Look at me! I’m saving gas! I’m reducing traffic congestion! I’m SAVING THE WORLD!

And other days? Look at me! I’m sitting next to someone who hasn’t bathed in quite some time! I’m riding the bus with 40-some strangers, some of whom cough without covering their mouths! Look at me! Butts are getting wider, the seats are getting smaller, and I’m sitting closer to this guy than I sit next to family! Wheeeee!

There are days, particularly in the middle of winter, when I am forced to recall one of the opening scenes in “Shawn of the Dead” where it appears that a number of the morning commuters may already be zombies. Slightly gray-skinned in the early-morning light, breathing through their mouths, eyes dull and vacant, it’s both a chuckle and an opportunity for reflection. If there was a world take-over by zombies, this is where it would start: on the bus, where they’d go unnoticed for days and days…

“Good morning!”


“Another day, huh? Thank God the week’s almost over!”


“Well, here’s my stop! Have a good one!”


I was sharing a bottle of wine the other day with a friend I’ll call “George” (because her name is George), a fellow bus rider, albeit on another line. We agreed that there should be rules, posted rules, to riding the bus. Here’s the preliminary list:

George and Pearl’s Rules to Riding the Bus:
1. If you did not buy a ticket for your groceries, gym bag, purse, they should not be occupying a seat, especially when people are standing.
2. In the same vein, it’s quite clear, by the shape of the seats, where your butt goes and where my butt goes. Please respect my butt’s right to sit in its own seat by keeping your butt in yours.
3. Cell phone conversations should be brief and discreet. Your description of how much you drank last night and what it’s going to take to get that stain out of your carpet is, thankfully, none of my business and I wish I’d never heard the story…
4. Genitalia should never – and I can’t stress this enough – never be exposed on the bus. You know who you are, dude. That kind of thing ruins my day (but makes for excellent stories for my friends.)
5. If you end up standing because all the seats have been taken, please step to the back of the bus. Everyone standing at the front/next to the bus driver makes it difficult for those who get on after you to maneuver. Come toward the back. No one will bite you. Unless, of course, we’ve all turned into zombies, in which case, all I can say is “Braaaaaiiiiiinnnnnnnnnssss”.
6. Also related to standing in the aisles, if you could keep your backpack and/or your butt from hitting the head of the person on the aisle seat, that would be optimal.

There were more rules, I’m sure, but like I said, there was a bottle of wine involved.

So far, the Minneapolis Transit Authority has been resistant to posting our rules, but I remain hopeful. In the meantime, if we could all agree to keep our butts in our pants, on our seats, and out of each others’ faces, I think we’d all be better off.

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