Thursday, September 22, 2011


I don't mind riding the bus. I really really don't. It takes me approximately 30 minutes to get to campus as opposed to the 10 minutes that it would take me driving, but it's 30 minutes of not having to worry about anything, 30 minutes to study some flashcards or (in one case) finish up a homework assignment that I had spaced on the night before or 30 minutes to just space out and listen to an audiobook before my day begins in earnest. The ride culminates in me getting off the bus and walking about a quarter mile to my building to begin my classes. No hunting for a parking space.

To be honest, that makes the whole process worthwhile. The walk is refreshing (check back with me in the winter) and, to me, hunting for a parking space is akin to pulling out my teeth one by one.

I'll admit, there have been a lot of changes in the last 6 weeks that have required quite a bit of adjustment for me. Riding the bus is, thankfully, not one of them. My only wish is that there was a Starbucks SOMEWHERE on my daily commute.

I have one day a week when classes begin at 8:30am. Which means I'm on the bus that arrives on campus at 8:00am. Every other day of the week requires an earlier ETA than that - sometimes MUCH earlier than that. So I'm usually on a bus that is not filled to capacity. The 8:00am bus is different. EVERYONE is trying to get on campus by 8:00am. I hate that bus ride. For the crowds. I hate the crowds in the morning. And the morning people. The morning people all chatting to each other about the day that is about to begin. The regulars that are all exchanging friendly hellos.

I am NOT a morning person, and, although a regular, I'm lucky if I can manage a wave to the people who are now familiar by sight.

My general rule of thumb is that I sit in a row that has two adjacent seats, and I sit on the seat that is closest to the row. This leaves the window seat empty for my book bag. As long as I can see at least two other open seats on the bus, I do not move over and open up the seat next to me. My rationale is this, A) There are other seats that are open and B) I'm not a morning person.*

Apparently other bus-riders do not appreciate this rationale.

On NUMEROUS occasions, there will be MULTIPLE open seats, and I'll have someone come up next to me and say "Excuse me, please?" The first time it happened, I was so shocked that I just moved over and put my book bag (my HEAVY book bag) on my lap. I spent the rest of the ride in stunned silence. There were SEVERAL other open seats. Why did this person sit next to me? I pondered it until I got off the bus and chalked it up to a fluke.

Until it happened again.

And again.

I'd say that at least three times a week, on a sparsely filled bus, people are asking me to move over so that they can sit next to me. All varieties of people. Young women, young men, older men, older women. It doesn't matter. It happens so often now that I've gotten borderline rude. When someone asks me to move over, I'll make eye contact with them, deliberately look at all the other open seats THAT DON'T REQUIRE ANYONE TO MOVE, then look back at the person before moving over and letting them sit next to me.

My friend Cory says it's because I have a "good energy." I don't see how this is possible first thing in the morning before I've had coffee. My friend Jessica suggested that next time someone says, "Excuse me, please?" I should say, "Yes? Did you need something?"

I am not pleasant in the mornings. This might happen. I'm about one more early morning away from telling someone "No. Sit somewhere else."

I'm just not sure I want to be "that girl." Thoughts?

*On the 8:00am bus, all bets are off. I'm usually wedged up against the window while a 500lb person squeezes into the seat adjacent to me, a mother with a screaming child sits immediately in front of me, and a toddler is behind me kicking my seat. I hate the 8:00am bus. Have I mentioned that?


Becoming Grace said...

You're safe: They know what they are in for sitting with you because they've sized you up. If they take an empty row it's like playing Russian Roulette.

If you don't want to ask if they need something or scoot in, I'd just put in headphones and crank them up. To the point that other people can hear your music so they assume you can't hear them.

That, or move to the empty row yourself and let them chance Russian Roulette - but that does the same to you :)

ems said...

I need to work on looking meaner. Or not bathing. So I'm not safe.

But then, judging from the way some people on the bus smell, the not bathing thing might not work either. :-)

zlionsfan said...

Apples to apples: it's 30 minutes to get to campus and walk to your building. It's 10 minutes to drive to campus, but how long until you can start walking to the building? Another 10 minutes? Maybe more?

A lot of people don't understand social mores about public transportation. (Well, I guess they're more like folkways.) You never sit next to someone if there is an open seat where you don't have to. I could see it being different on a later bus, because if you expect the bus to fill up, it might be worthwhile to sit next to a known person rather than taking your chances with an unknown person.

Personally, I stand. (OK, that's on the Red Line in Chicago, but it's a similar concept.) Then you avoid the whole don't-sit-next-to-me thing.

Jesse said...

I'm confused by your comment about Starbucks. You said you have to walk a quarter mile from the bus stop to your building. Are you actually implying that there's somewhere in this country that you can go a quarter mile without encountering a Starbucks?!

For the seat problem, I would just stare at the people without saying anything, no matter how many times they repeat themselves. That should freak make them assume you've got some kind of mental problem and leave you alone. At least, assuming they don't have an actual mental problem worse than what you're projecting. :p

JennyG said...

The solution is simple. Insert finger into nose. Gets 'em every time.

zlionsfan said...

Jenny, obviously your memories of Lafayette have faded with time.

JennyG said...

Dave - true. Time to up the ante. Finger up nose, while muttering to yourself and violently rocking back and forth.

punkinmama said...

I am so with you on this. I would try headphones & keep my head down no matter how many times they try to get my attention. DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT!