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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Y’All Are Blocking My View Up There


The people at the front of the bus are frightened.

And who can blame them? 

The bus crowd is a scary bunch.

See her over there?  The one near the front, her with her hair in a “bun”, reading a so-called “book”?  Probably votes a straight ticket.

And what about the man with the dog?  Sure, he looks blind, but who knows, huh?  They do that, you know, to lure you in and WHAMMO!, the blind guy’s got yer lunch money.

I shake my head in that almost-imperceptible Minnesota way I’ve perfected after years of silently judging and go back to staring out the window. 

It’s the same, every day.  The stop just before the river, the stop where the fare drops considerably, is the stop of the people who have driven in, park in a lot two, maybe three blocks away, and then ride the bus downtown. 

And more often than not, rather than take a seat next to someone they don’t know, they will crowd near the front, looking studiously nonchalant as they sway and jostle against each other.

And then we make another stop, where those boarding are forced to sidestep the people who won’t sit down.

Why?  Why won’t you sit down?

I look around, try to see it from their eyes.  At 6:30 in the morning, the bus is filled with young Hispanic males in the black-and-white checked pants of the kitchen;  Hispanic women with blue-black ponytails and folded hands in their laps; middle-aged white women with matching hats and scarves;  white men with newspapers; a skinny white hipster in need of a sandwich and a haircut; a black man with a gym bag and his head against the window. 

We have so much, yet we don’t have seatmates.

I close my eyes and think, hard.  Come to the back.  We’re like you, only seated!  Come to the baaaack!

It’s public transportation.  We’re in public.

And yet some of us seem afraid.

I want to tell them, the swaying commuters at the front, “I’ve been riding over ten years, two times a day, and aside from the time that guy pulled his privates out of his pants, it’s been a good run!”

I look around. 

No, the guy with the lack of social boundaries isn’t here.

And the people at the front of the bus sway on.

39 comments:

Mitchell is Moving said...

This is so funny and so insightful. You've certainly got a word with words... and observing!

Pearl said...

Thank you, Mitchell. :-)

joeh said...

I did a train commute for 40 years we had those same people, I think they just had to be the first off the train when it came to their stop....dumb.

jenny_o said...

Your slice of life posts are so good. All of your posts are, now that I think about it.

I'm thinking hard about that and hoping you hear me :)

The Jules said...

I'd be happy to sit next to you and share my bag of eyelids.

Eyelid?

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Oh well...more seats and breathing space for everyone else.

Pearl said...

joeh, it's just so inconvenient for anyone else trying to get on! The lack of efficiency is killin' me!

:-) jennie. I hear ya, sweetheart.

The Jules, I burst out laughing at that. So wonderfully ridiculous.

Delores, you're too good for me. :-)

vanilla said...

Purse your lips and shake your head slowly once again. There is no accounting for it.

GDad said...

Shaking your head in that almost-imperceptible way made me laugh.

Pearl said...

vanilla, I'm tellin' ya, it's gonna give me wrinkles.

GDad, I'm glad!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

You may be "silently judging"- as you call it- with an imperceptible head-shake, Pearl. But they're "superior" by not sitting.
Or so they think. ;)

Leauxra said...

Oh, the awkwardness of busses.

A close second is assigned seating on planes. Yes, there is an open row in front of you, but you must sit next to a person! A person you don't know!

esbboston said...

I am just glad you are perfected. Your silent solutions to life are the main reason why you'll neVer make it in politics. I stiLL distinctly remember the first time I ever heard anyone use the phrase "all y'all". Even though I no longer work with this person named Debbie who is one of my favorite humans, I passed her on the sidewalk by my business, and we were both carrying soup! I was taking Tamie her leftovers from the day before and Debbie had got lunch at the place just north of our shop. SmaLL world, but it is soup season.

Linda Myers said...

I felt like I had a seat by myself right across from you. Thanks for the memories!

Douglas said...

If only they would have let me stand on the school bus.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

If you ride the same route each day surely there ought to be some regulars?
But I guess it's just like a ride in a condo elevator. All who live there take no time to get acquainted.Tthese days friends are found on line.

Ian Lidster said...

I love your bus tales and the scenario is true of any bus anywhere in the world, in my experience. Virtually all the same people are there. We just rode one in Waikiki and yep, same folks.

Buttons said...

You make me laugh.B

Jacquelineand.... said...

I need to work on my headshaking technique; I'm always so dadgummed obvious.

Nessa Roo said...


I would love to hear the story about the free-baller. What do you do in a situation like that? (ME? I'd probably just point and laugh.)

Dr Zibbs said...

I like the art of trying to make someone not sit next to you on a plane. Hmm. I might have to write a post about that.

Eva Gallant said...

Every time you do one of your bus posts, I feel like I'm there with you! Your descriptions are vivid!

bill lisleman said...

Pearl you probably could write a Halloween scary movie with the bus characters. "The Night on the Elm St. Bus" - oh please mention my help with the title when you accept your Oscar.

Ms Sparrow said...

Such subtle but brilliant observations. You have a great knack for social commentary!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I miss out on so much using private transportation.

Pat said...

Am I imagining it or - back in the frightful days of US history - was there a time when if you were not the 'right' colour you had to sit at the back of the bus?

Craver Vii said...

Born and raised in Chicago, I kind of miss the bus etiquette and jostling. But not too much.

Kana said...

The kitchen Hispanics might get ethnic on them; the middle-aged white women will *tsk* at them and tell them to pull their socks up; the newspaper men will smear ink on them, crowd them with those large unfloded papers; the hipster will judge them; a black man with a gym bag could do anything.

It is a much more perilous situation than you think. You should probably not tell them about the man with his privates out.

The Elephant's Child said...

Bus travel is always fascinating. I never get a seat to myself though. Someone will always sit down and give me their take (often very, very odd) on life. And then greet me with open arms when we run across each other in other venues. I think my pheronomes attract them. It isn't dull - but is sometimes a little frightening.

Gigi said...

After picking myself up from the shock of you using the word "y'all" (us Southerners MUST be rubbing off on you - bless your heart)I went on to enjoy the post - as usual.

And like you, I wonder why they won't sit. Are they afraid of getting cooties?

sage said...

Count your blessings! I remember a long bus ride from Cam Doc (in the Mekong Delta) to Saigon, in which I was in the back of the bus with a guy that kept raising his arms and when he did about gagged and looked around to see if there wasn't oxygen masks dangling from the ceiling in which I could get a whiff of fresh air.

Stephen Hayes said...

I rode the bus to work for years. I miss it.

Diane said...

The only experience I have with riding buses was back in my school days. Anyone who stood up got shouted at. Privates remained private and undiscussed, except when Euclid wet himself in the sixth grade. And sharing was not only encouraged, but mandated. I would loan you our bus driver, Mr. Sabey. Except, sadly, he passed away. And all of his authority and expertise with him.

Rose L said...

So,...did you sit? I have never been on a bus where you could stand. See how limited my life has been!

Tempo said...

Words got out I'm afraid Pearl... It's not me, it's YOU... you that they've heard of and are so very afraid of..

River said...

That doesn't happen downunder. The minute there's an empty seat, someone is parking their bum in it. We're not fussy.

Linda O'Connell said...

Many of the bus riders around here are talkative. teh talk to themselves, and then you have the cell phone yakkers letting it all hang out. Interesting, for sure.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

It's funny, and sad, but it's lonely at the back of the bus isn't it Pearl? If I ever get on that bus, I'll come and sit with you.


www.incomingbytes.blogspot.com

Jen said...

Ah yes, I love that Midwestern head shake. What would it take to get one of us uptight Midwesterners to overreact? Openly I mean?

"We're like you, only seated." :-D