In a big city where streets are congested, parking is scarce, and public transit is commonplace, riding the bus doesn’t mean much. It means you needed to get somewhere. Everyone and her neighbor rides the bus, trolley, subway, etc.
At least, that’s the way it is in movies. I don’t know. Truth be told, I don’t spend much time in big cities.
Out here in the suburbs, announcing that you came by bus causes people to take two steps back and eye you like a syringe in a sandbox.Out here in the suburbs, announcing that you came by bus causes people to take two steps back and eye you like a syringe in a sandbox. Click To Tweet
“Oh, the bus, you say? That’s nice. Don’t touch anything, Lillian. Honey, start the car!”
Talk of schedules and fares will earn you pitying looks or that sudden gush of over-the-top, unwarranted niceness that says “I’m going to be really extra sweet to you because I can afford it, and there but for the grace of God go I.”
Unless some quirk of your psychological constitution requires a constant inflow of judgment or sympathy, you learn not to mention it.
In fairness, most of the people I encounter on the bus around here are relatively down on their luck. There’s lots of frugal widowhood and a good bit of disability. Metal carts bearing single bags of discount groceries crowd the front aisle. Unusual voices abound. Some talk to themselves, while others debate which store has the best deal on used VHS movies. (It is 2019.)
Should a couple enter, they will have just eaten fast food, he will be wearing sweatpants, and they will be arguing about something. Then they’ll make up and offer an over-the-top display of public affection. They’ll go back to arguing. They’ll make up again. This cycle will repeat, ad nauseam, until they leave. She’ll step out first, followed by his sweatpants. Chivalry is not, after all, dead.
Preoccupied by survival, people are slow to adapt. A reloadable plastic transit card system was implemented more than a year ago. The card is free, but you have to go to the trouble of getting it at a public counter downtown and the “benefit” it offers is that you have to load your fare 48 hours ahead of time for it to be ready when you ride. I’m the only person I’ve ever seen use one.
People pay with fists of change or scraps of paper they don’t think to look for until after they’ve boarded and everyone is waiting. No one complains. We’re riding the bus, discussing what’s good on VHS. Delay is our life’s structure.
We have all the time in the world.
[to be continued?]