Volume 94, Issue 49
Friday, November 24, 2000
Public transportation, etiquette and you - An introduction to the bus rider's code
I want to talk about riding the bus. Buses are those hulking steel monsters that criss-cross the city, carrying students and average folk alike, wherever they want to go.
Sometimes the bus is packed like a sardine tin; there are times when I have elbows jabbing me in the ribs, or an umbrella poised dangerously close to my eyes. There are also times when I sit alone, alienated from the bus driver by the eerie silence caused by the absence of passengers and their idle chitchat. There are no in-betweens you either fight the mob wedged into that small space for breath, or you battle with the tedium of riding the bus alone.
Riding that bus can be an ominous task.
We all know the most desperate times for commuters are when the bus is stuffed with bodies. The word "claustrophobia" doesn't seem to encapsulate the gripping terror one feels when the sheer density of the crowd forces your face into some slob's armpit. These times of daunting hardship are when it's most important to maintain a certain level of etiquette. We're in this together; help your fellow wayfarer get to campus without having a heart attack.
Ride the bus properly. Abide by the bus rider's code.
The bus rider's code is a simple guideline in order to maximize the comfort and ease of all passengers on the bus and to minimize the risk of a stress-induced spree killing.
Say "hi" to the bus driver. Have some respect for that poor person behind the wheel that has to cart your ass all over town. Let them know they're not automatons and recognize them as human beings instead of just coldly flashing your ID and walking by discourteously.
Sit on the inside of a two-seater bench. There are people who are far too shy or polite to tell you how much of a jerk you are for sitting on the outside of a two-seater on a crowded bus. Don't make others have to ask, just move over. Otherwise, you may just get a brick heaved at you. I carry bricks for just such an occasion.
Move your bag. Bags don't go on seats, people do. Most people recognize this rule on a populous bus. But there are still those pigs with no proper sense manners that reserve a seat for their bag when there is a seriously low people to seat ratio. I hope you burn in hell.
Ask someone else if they'd like to read the paper. Most people don't think of this when they're through reading a newspaper. Don't throw it under the seat when you're done with it, someone else may want to read that! It can be uncomfortable on an over-stuffed public transport and a newspaper is perfect for avoiding eye contact with strangers at close quarters.
Talk loud enough so other people can hear your conversation. We all eavesdrop on the conversations happening within our midst on a public vehicle. Be courteous and facilitate those around you who would live vicariously through your dialogue with adequate volume. It will help keep their mind off killing that guy who's sitting beside his bag.
Wear deodorant. This cannot be stressed enough. It doesn't matter what your reasons are for not wearing it; nothing drives people crazier than completely rank body odour. Especially when the source is right beside you. I've seen people have hold their breath for blocks because some yahoo stinks like a dead hooker. Trust me, you're doing everyone a favour when you put this on.
Help people. Be a freaking boy scout for Christ's sake! Give an elderly person your seat. Help the mom get her stroller up and down the bus stairs. Tell the guy next to you to wear deodorant. Let the person carrying 120 pounds of books have your chair. They're all simple, easy things and they make the lives of all people aboard easier. Remember: no one is the enemy on the bus. Except maybe Sadam Hussein, if he rode the bus.
Listen to the driver. When the driver yells, "Move back!" Do it. Don't just stand there twiddling your thumbs like a eunuch in a harem. Move to the back of the bus. This simple practice creates more space for others to board and therefore ride home as well. Public transportation guarantees everyone a ride home, so make room for other people even if the driver didn't yell "please."
These are only a few measly acts that can make your ride and that of your colleague more enjoyable. Remember to think with your head and act with your heart when you're on the bus. It makes the grueling task of commuting that much more bearable, for you, the driver and all the other passengers.
I find it incredible that despite all our accomplishments, such as the Internet, putting a man on the moon, the human gnome project we still can't ride a bus with even the faintest sensibility.
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