Thursday, May 30, 2013

The People On the Bus

The most exciting part of my life, currently, is my blossoming relationships with people on the bus.  Oh, we are getting to know each other so well!  Sort of.  Or maybe not.

There's a woman who I started seeing all the time in the early spring.  She was probably around before that, but I only noticed her when she started wearing her yellow coat.  Once I'd seen Yellow Coat, suddenly she was everywhere.  On the bus with me to and from work.  Out for a walk in my neighbourhood.  At the grocery store.  Now that it's a bit warmer, too warm for the yellow coat, I'll probably lose track of her.  Unfortunately it was her only eye-catching feature.

There's a family consisting of a mom and three kids that I have learned to dread.  The kids are always clean and impeccably dressed, but the mom always looks like she wishes she could jump on a bus and ride away without them.  There is a girl around 8 years old, who does a lot of minding of her younger siblings.  The middle child is a girl around 5 years old.  She's usually pretty quiet.  It's the youngest, a toddling boy, who's the hellion.  As soon as I see them getting on the bus it's like counting from a lightening flash to the first thunderclap.  One potato, two potato, three potato... and let the shrieking and writhing begin.  Sometimes the mom smacks her son.  Other times she simply holds his wrist in an iron grip and stares out the window as though willing herself into another life.  I know nothing about parenting, so I'm in no position to  judge this woman.  Let's just say that I don't enjoy her kids any more than she does.

Finally there's a woman who I felt neutral about until this morning.  Background: at my bus station, travellers queue up for their turn to board the bus.  This doesn't happen at all bus stations in the city. At other stations, people form a disorderly mob, and push their way to the doors of the bus, using both elbows for leverage.  But at my bus station we are civilized.  This is not King and Bay (the heart of Toronto's wolfish financial district), this is the gentle almost-suburbs.  There is one line for the front door of the bus and one line for the back door, and this lady has been taking that route long enough to know it.

This morning, when the bus pulled up, the lady in question was third in line for the front door.  But that wasn't good enough for her.  Quick as a flash, she beetled past the people ahead of her (one of them being me) and got in first.  How rude!  First because jumping a queue is inherently inconsiderate, as a matter of principle, and second because, really?  You were third.  You couldn't have waited for me and the person in front of me to get in?  It would have taken seconds.  Literally.  *fumes*

Thank God for my iPod.  Noise-reducing ear-buds save my sanity, and pleasant podcasters give me something positive to focus on.

Alright, I'll end on a happy note.  There is a pretty young mother with a lovely little girl who ride the bus with me sometimes, and they always make me smile.  The mom loves her child so deeply, and strokes stray curls off her forehead with such tenderness, that it gives me hope for humanity.  They have no idea that I'm watching; they are absorbed in their own thoughts and their comfortable, warm bond.  They'll never know how often they make my day.


DarcKnyt said...

Ah, public transportation! The pushing and shoving! The inconsiderate a$$es! The sniveling, sneezing, coughing, phlegming sick people who simply CAN'T live right until they've diseased YOU!

I remember it so well. ;)

And my MP4 player saves me often, too. VERY often. AT WORK. Ugh.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

The more you watch people you can see the bad side of people. They can be rude, mean and uncaring of other people. Then every once in a while you see something good and it makes up for all the rest.

Jenski said...

When I used to commute by public transportation, I called these people my commuter friends. :-) There was an old lady who sometimes smelled, but a couple of times we shared crossword answers, and I once overheard her ask a young cool looking dude about his phone he was using like a walkie talkie. I often wondered what her back story was!

wigsf3 said...

So... Creeping on the bus now, are you?

Granny Annie said...

You are comparing a loving, cooing, petting mother of ONE to a distraught, disgusted, exhausted mother of THREE??? Please.... there is no comparison. Bill Cosby says people who only have one child don't count as parents. lol

Sparkling Red said...

DarcKnyt: You see all the best and all the worst of people. I always get a little boost when I see an able-bodied youth jump up to offer their seat to a senior citizen or pregnant woman.

Ron: It's amazing the range of behaviours, from angelic to horrible, that can come from one person.

Jenski: I often give a good-morning nod to elderly people if they catch my eye. I've never struck up a conversation, but then again most of the oldies in my area don't speak much English.

Wigsf: Yup. Welcome to my life. You'll know me on transit: I'll be the one staring openly at anyone who interests me.

Granny Annie: Fair enough, but who would you rather sit next to for half an hour on the bus? Hmm?

Lynn said...

Oh my - how well I know what that is like. I took public transportation for two years (when I returned to college in downtown Atlanta in 2003-2004) and like you, experienced highs and lows (mostly lows.)

Highs: a woman used to have a devotional book on her lap every day and usually had closed eyes. I realized she was praying.

A man dressed for work (not executive office work, but dressed neatly and nicely) always wore a sparkly, fake jewel studded ballcap with a Christmas ornament design. (All year around.) One young lady remarked one day, "Nice hat!" And he nodded and smiled his thanks.

A woman got on the train one morning with two little boys and a huge suitcase. I realized from her conversation with a fellow passenger that they were on their way to the beach. (One can access the airport from that train line.) One of the little boys looked around with an interested smile and asked his mom, "Is this the beach?" I was thinking how awesome the beach would seem to him when he saw it after that. :)

Lows: A man showed me a loaded pistol one day when I asked him to move a bag so I could sit down. I got off the train at the next stop and let the transit police know, but doubt if anything came of it. He suggested I start riding in the first train car where the driver is from then on.

What made me finally start driving to school instead: I just got sick of the pushing and shoving and how my clothes smelled when I got home. :)

Lynn said...

This is so interesting - look what I came across just now, an article about commuting on public transit in Atlanta!

LL Cool Joe said...

I haven't been on a bus for years, mainly because we live out in the country and need a car to get anywhere.

Having had 2 children, one of which was a nightmare in buses, church, shops etc. I feel for that mother. It's often so difficult to control a naughty child. You aren't meant to smack them, and even if you do it makes no difference at all anyway, and it makes controlling a badly behaved child almost impossible. Saying that, I don't envy you having a 30 minute journey next to one either. No fun all round!

Sparkling Red said...

Lynn: Thank you for sharing your transit encounters. That article hits the nail on the head by articulating that riding public transit forces us to witness each others' humanity. I share the author's feeling that the experience somehow improves me. At the very least we transit riders have to exercise tolerance, and that's a good muscle to exercise.

Joey: The badly-behaved little boy is one of the most contrary children I've ever encountered. His answer to everything but what he wants is NO! No wonder his mother is at her wits' end.

Vanessa T said...

My heart hurts for that poor mom with the strong willed boy! Many years ago, I babysat for a neighbor who had 3 boys, and one of those was incredibly active and strong willed. I was at my wits end with him until one day he called me mom.

People watching is a fun hobby! I always liked it. And it sounds like you're kind of enjoying it too. :)