Category Archives: funner times on the bus

The Nicest Thing You Can Be Called on the Bus

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I’m always filled with a sense of dread when I round the corner on 41st Street in the morning and see people squeezed four-deep along the sidewalk, waiting for the bus. For the most part, the buses come more often than I expect and get me to work right on time even when I feel like I’m running late, but when something goes wrong along the 2nd Avenue M15-SBS route, it seems to go really, really wrong. This morning, the bus pulled up just as I collected my receipt at the pre-pay machines and was shockingly empty, so I figured something went really, really wrong uptown and the MTA sent a new bus down to try to fix things. I got a seat right up front by the window and began my long-practiced process of zoning out so the elbow jabs of the person next to me wouldn’t seem so jarring.

The bus was filling up more and more as we made our way downtown, and it was downright packed by the time we got to a stop with a lady waiting in a wheelchair. Now, no one blames anyone for being in a wheelchair, but it’s the simple truth that a wheelchair on the bus is an inconvenience. Everyone in the front has to move back to make room for the wheelchair, and three people have to give up their seats so the wheelchair can be strapped in beside the window, and the wheelchair usually sticks out into the aisle far enough that no one can hold onto the handrail above it. The bus driver always tells people to exit the bus for a moment to make room and then re-board once the wheelchair’s in place, but everyone’s been left at the side of the road once or twice when the bus was too full, and no one wants to risk giving up his spot inside. So it was understandable (but maybe not excusable) when the woman in the wheelchair tried to board and people were reticent to move for her, but she wasn’t in the mood for understanding and muttered complaints to the bus driver as he strapped her wheelchair down. He agreed with her that “people should use common sense” and that he would let the bus sit there all day if they needed to be taught a lesson. “I’m already at MY job,” he said. I was amused, and I thought that was the end of it.

Read the rest here!

Behind the White Line

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Last night on the bus, a man and woman stood talking to the driver from the Wall Street stop to the East Village. It was clear that the driver and the man knew each other in the way that the man draped himself across the payment box casually and laughed and laughed at everything the bus driver said, but it seemed the woman in the leopard-print coat had been sitting in the seat behind the driver, gotten jealous of the fun they were having, and jumped up to join in. They weren’t bothering me at all, but then I’m a really forgiving, really self-sacrificing, really charitable person. Also a humble one.

But out of nowhere came a creaky old-lady voice:

“Excuse me! Don’t talk to the driver while the bus is in motion, and get behind the white line. It’s the law! All you’re doing is messing around. ALL OUR LIVES ARE AT STAKE.”

Read the rest here to bring me fame and riches!

Sick and Lonely in NYC

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I work for the one company in NYC that didn’t take yesterday off, so I was riding the bus home as usual last night. Across from me was an elderly Asian man who had loped onto the bus with heavy plastic grocery bags covered in Chinese writing hanging off of his arms, racing invisible passengers for the many seats that were available. He coughed continuously and unabashedly onto the back of the neck of the woman in front of him while I did my best to hold my breath for the entire trip.

In the East Village, the doors opened at one of the stops, and he turned, paused to make sure no one was coming in the door, and tossed a used tissue out onto the sidewalk. ANIMAL! I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this after almost eight years of seeing people throw their Doritos bags onto the subway floor, tuck their coffee cups into the space between the seat and the side of the bus, and aim their gum generally toward the trash can without any actual worry about whether it makes it in or not, but as a country girl raised to respect the environment, this stuff kills me.

The idea that this guy couldn’t just tuck his tissue into a pocket for the three stops burned me so much that I had to say, “Wooooow. Unbelievable.” He looked over to see who I was talking to, and I met his eyes and said, “You’re awful.”

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An Otherwise Exceptional Existence

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I’m flying out of JFK for Christmas, which is a convenient $2.25 subway ride away from my apartment, so I needed to transport a duffel bag of clothes (read: beloved underwear) from Kamran’s apartment to mine this morning. In the normal world, this would involve tossing it in the back of my car along amidst the Big Mac wrappers and used Kleenex and forgetting about it until I got there. But in my world, this involves:

1) carrying it to the bus, which is only an avenue block away but is very slow and could force me to stand holding the bag for 45 minutes, because I’m not putting my gorgeous white duffel with the light brown suede bottom on the bus floor, or

2) carrying it to the subway, which is three avenue blocks away and will involve navigating heavy foot traffic but will get me there much faster.

I could also take a cab, but it’s $30 from Kamran’s apartment to mine and sort of defeats the whole purpose of being able to fly out of the airport that’s a convenient $2.25 subway ride away from my apartment.

So I stressed about this all weekend. I thought about bringing the bag to my place tonight after work to avoid the crowds. I thought about leaving home at 7 a.m. to miss rush hour. I thought about how I just need to suck it up and become one of those people who pulls a collapsible grocery cart behind her wherever she goes. But instead, I left at the normal hour and hoped some kindly man would feel unnecessarily guilty about depriving a woman of a seat.

And of course the best happened. A couple of buses passed as I was walking toward the stop, which pretty much guarantees a ten-minute wait until the next one, but a third one miraculously pulled up mere moments after I arrived. It hadn’t been long enough for a new crowd to gather, so the only other passenger waiting to board was a woman I gave bus fare to out of the goodness of my heart when her card was expired last week, and she gave a friendly hello. The bus was almost entirely empty, so I took a seat at the front and gave my bag a seat of its own. Barely anyone got on at the next stop and the next stop and so on for my entire ride to work, so I never had to worry about piling my duffel and my purse and my lunch bag all on my lap. It couldn’t have been a better situation.

When we’d passed all of the stops where a lot of people usually board and rush to steal the empty seats from each other in ways that I think should embarrass them, I looked over lovingly at my duffel, so comfortably nestled next to me, and thought, “Everything always works out in my favor! Boy, the bus sure is great.”

And then I reflected on my own self lovingly and how I manage to have such a sunny outlook. Of course I’ve had many a trip on the bus where I got shuffled to the center where there are no seats and was forced to hold a heavy bag the entire way, but that’s not what leaves an impact on me. I tend to think of the great things in my life as the norm and the worst things as momentary riffles in an otherwise exceptional existence. I don’t think about the time I requested a window seat at Per Se and they didn’t oblige; I think about how comfortable the banquette they did give us was. I can’t recall a single gift I asked for as a kid and didn’t receive–although I’m sure there were hundreds over my eighteen years of childhood greed–but I can remember how special the presents I did get were. I really don’t even dwell on my dead mom but instead think of how great it is that her absence made me closer to my dad.



Bigtime Bus Touching

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This morning, I was sitting next to a woman in a big, puffy coat whose bus reading pose also included her elbow sticking out halfway into the seat next to her, so I’m sure part of me was hanging off my seat into the aisle, but I was still surprised when I found a woman standing in the aisle pressed against me. She boarded the bus and stopped right beside me, which was fine, and then she backed up into me to let someone pass, which was fine, but then she stayed backed up.

There was no one on the other side of her, and in fact, there was no one else in the aisle with her at all, so she had all of this room not usually found in New York City, and yet she leaned her whole side against my shoulder. And then she moved and leaned her belly against me. And then she moved and leaned her back against me. This wasn’t casual, accidental touching but full-on intimate bodily contact that lasted several stops.

Read the rest here! (Not because I’m a total jerk but because I get paid based on my views there.) (Not that I’m not a total jerk.)