Tales from the Bus: #6 Chance encounters with students

This isn’t the first time I’ve met a student on the bus.

This morning, I was headed to campus. The woman behind me was speaking in Spanish and English on her phone. Usually, people having long conversations on public transport irritate me, but she wasn’t being loud and she wasn’t discussing overly personal things, so I was able to tune it out and didn’t really think about it.

Then I felt a tap on my shoulder.

To my surprise, it was a student currently in my film class! We had a pleasant conversation about the interview she had just had for a summer internship, about the films we were watching in my class, and I was happy to hear that she was enjoying the class. Sometimes, I’m not sure what some students think about the material. She seemed enthusiastic about it. I also learned that her family is Cuban, that she is native speaker of Spanish and that English is in fact her second language (couldn’t tell at all from listening to her!). I like it when my students see me out and about, and feel like they can come up to me, and want to have a chat. If you hate your instructor, you go out of your way to avoid them.

So one more reason to love public transport: for those fleeting coincidences that allow you to get to know people you only know in a limited context a little better, for a few minutes.

Tales from the bus #5: I’m a loud bitch and I don’t care

I was riding the bus this weekend and a couple of vaguely Indie-looking girls were on it too. College students. One was cute and was wearing silver threaded tights, the other had cool half-frame glasses but had the infamous “bitch face”.

The bitch just wouldn’t shut up. Her friend was talking about buying yoga pants and she immediately pulled a face and started giving a speech about how they were so “out” and how “people who actually practice yoga don’t wear yoga pants”. I hate the condescending know-it-all tone she used. I have a special contempt for the so-called “alternative” crowd that is so rigid about rules that are just as arbitrary as those required to fit into the mainstream. The dumb bitch started going on about how “yoga pants are the go-to accessory for every middle-aged housewife who’s decided to try yoga for five minutes”. She clearly thought she was being funny but she just came across as incredibly negative and mean-spirited. She also spoke at the top of her lungs, as though she weren’t on a bus where other people were forced to listen to her and had a twang.

When her friend whispered for her to keep it down a bit, she pretended to be embarrassed and admitted to having a “loud fucking voice”. Fucking bitch couldn’t keep her mouth shut. It got worse – she started swearing and talking even louder, bragging about how she was failing a class on differential equations. How stupid do you have to be to fail a freshman class on differential eqs and boast about it?

One of the most annoying bitches of the bus yet.

Tales from the bus: #4 The bus driver who saw me

Today, I went to the grocery store. I was on my way back, carrying a heavy bag, waiting to cross the street, when I saw my bus. It was about to turn onto the street I was crossing over to, and no one was waiting at the bus stop. It was going to get there before I did, and most likely not stop, leaving me to walk home with the heavy bag (it only runs every half hour) and feeling like I do when I *just* miss an opportunity.

So while I was waiting, I looked into the bus and caught the driver’s eye. Maybe he saw my desperation, maybe he had to wait anyway. But he looked back at me, and saw me. He waited. He stopped the bus, even though nobody was getting off. He waited until I got there, thirty seconds later, and started the bus again as soon as I got on. I thanked him, both when I got on and off (this I do usually anyway) the bus, and he didn’t even seem particularly bothered by it. He wasn’t expecting anything in return, not even gratitude.

I loved the gesture, his attitude, and it made my day.

Tales from the bus: #3 Rude people piss me off

I almost let my day be ruined by a rude man on the bus today. I really loathe rudeness. A rude encounter with a stranger can really leave me feeling annoyed and despairing of the state of humanity.

I thought that it was common knowledge that you let people OFF the bus before you get on. It’s the same thing in a lift or when entering a room. Basic courtesy. Apparently, some people didn’t receive much of an education. Today, I was right in the doorway, about to step of the bus, when the OLDER man waiting at the bus stop just pushed his way right onto the bus, shoving me aside. I was so furious, that as I got off, I told him he was a moron who should know to let people off. I don’t understand why people are so unpleasant to each other in public – what is the rush to get on the bus? It made it worse that this was an older man. I feel older people should know better than to behave like savages, and that men should be particularly respectful of women. I let anyone, male or female, off the bus first, but it particularly grates on my nerves when men are rude to women.

That’s my rant for today. I’d had pleasant interactions all day with people, at the supermarket, at an open-air market, and meeting one of the rude characters who rides the bus had me fuming for a few minutes before calming down.

Series: Tales from the Bus

I ride the bus. To work, to campus, for a night out. Most people drive where I am, despite the fact that the bus system is quite reliable and has many different routes. The main reason I ride the bus is that I don’t know how to drive (yet) but it’s also a point of pride for me. It’s very much something I associate with city life, which I  love, and I like the idea of more efficient transport that brings people together. Anyway, there are always characters on the bus. This series was suggested to me by a friend after she heard several of my tales from riding the bus.

#1 Prison and drugs

Yep. A guy sitting next to me asked to borrow a pen. Then, he launched into a discussion of how he’d been in prison and had been clean (drugs!) for a year now. What was amazing about this was that he was so nonchalant about discussing these things publicly. It was as though it were a completely ordinary thing to go to prison and take drugs. He wasn’t a bad or dangerous-looking guy. He was young, polite to me and had a nice expression on his face. My associations with people who’ve been in prison or who have been addicted to/involved with drugs are very negative and these topics just didn’t exist in my world for a long time. It’s just a strange experience but also gives me insight into what’s “normal” for different people and how differently life can turn out depending on the environment you grew up in.

#2 I weigh 307 pounds

This guy was having the loudest conversation on his phone today. It pissed me off a bit, because I feel people shouldn’t shout or be obnoxious in small shared spaces. But it was more bewildering than annoying, because he was having a conversation about weight and food. He admitted to someone that he weighed 307 pounds, told them that they were giving up all the good food, that he had no self-control and that he had “no concept of what a small meal was”. To me, weight and food are intimate topics. I would be mortified to shout out my weight in front of people and this guy was oblivious to the rest of us, or just doesn’t see it as something to be embarrassed about. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing that he can be so honest about his weaknesses – he also said he’d recently lost 50 pounds! – or a bit strange that people can be so lacking in self-awareness. The atmosphere was tense and hearing these personal details made me a little uncomfortable.