I think the guys that get on the bus near the Park ‘n’ Ride are afraid of those of us who get on before them.
It’s the only conclusion I can come to, given their behavior.
There is a small “Park ‘n’ Ride” just before you cross the river into Minneapolis. You then walk a couple blocks, and at that point, a multitude of buses come by and you can hop on pretty much any of them as they are all heading downtown. The 17 (my bus) is fairly low-key, outside of a man who wears his winter coat – without benefit of ever seeming to wash it – year ‘round. Other than that, we’re cool. It is, after all, barely 7:30 in the morning. What kinds of shenanigans could we be up to? I don’t have the time or the energy at that point to be menacing. I’m lucky I’m wearing both shoes.
I won’t hurt you.
Yet the commuters – and somehow, you can tell by looking that they’ve driven in from an outer-ring suburb – seem frightened. They get on and cling to the front of the bus. If there’s not an open seat in the first four rows, they’ll stand. Clustered around in the relative open-ness of the front of the bus, the area reserved for the elderly and people with disabilities, they stand, their bags/laptops/lunches and various other accoutrements swaying with them as the bus heads downtown.
There’s something insulting about that. I thought about that this morning as I counted seven people standing, then turned around in my seat and saw nine open seats. Some of these seats were actually completely empty; that is, neither of the two seats on that side of the aisle were being used. The opportunity for your very own seat! Space for everyone! (I think of these seats as “Free Cherry Pie” – as in, “Oooh! Look! They’re giving away free cherry pie!”)
And yet they choose to stand, their bags and briefcases and butts in the faces of those sitting in the front.
I think we have a problem here, people. In the words of some guy in the movie “Cool Hand Luke”, what we have here is a failure to communicate.
And so we ask ourselves: How can we let them know that we’re safe to sit next to, that we are not dangerous?
After careful deliberation, I think I’m on to some ways to assure these people that we mean them no harm:
We all wear shirts that say “We Mean You No Harm”.
The person closest to you is required to say something nice, i.e., “You look good in that color” or “Those are great shoes.”
Valium or other prescription downer available via on-board pharmacy.
Free hot towels!
Official “greeter” hands you a breath mint and assigned seating.
Every Tuesday is Ballroom Dancing Tuesday, women twirled and “dipped” on their way off the bus…
Everyone issued free puppy to hold upon entry.
What else can we do to help these poor people? How do we ease their fears?
Have a good weekend, everyone! I'll be here Saturday and Sunday, but if you're not, I'll -- sniff! -- muddle through without you until Monday!