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The Wheels on the Bus

by Stephen Lautens

May 7, 1999

For years I took public transit to work. I live right on a major route, and it dropped me off steps from the office. No worries about parking, traffic or bad road conditions.

Every morning I packed myself in with the other commuters and let someone else drive me to work. The car sat in the driveway, used only to visit distant relatives or to go major grocery shopping expeditions.

But then I changed offices, and public transit just couldn't get me where I was going anymore. So I've been forced to become a car person.

There are real advantages to driving myself to work. The company I keep is marginally better, and I don't have to listen to someone else's rap music thundering out of their earphones.

Still, there are some things I miss about public transit.

I miss mornings standing next to women (or men) who buy their perfume in thirty gallon drums. Even then, judging from how much they slather on, it can only last them a week. Breathing next to them is like being beaten to death with a ten-foot vanilla bean.

Then there's the other end of the scale. These are the people who don't so much need a bath as they need a good sandblasting. Either that or they haven't figured out how buttons work. Unable to wash or change, I figure they're waiting for their clothes to eventually disintegrate.

I just hope I'm not there when it happens.

Not being a morning person, I did all of my waking up on the way to work, which is a little more tricky now that I'm actually required to do the driving. I'd hang from the bar like a chimp with one hand and read the paper with the other. I knew my limits, but other passengers insisted on juggling a briefcase, newspaper, cell phone and cup of coffee.

Every bus ride was a lesson in physics. There's always a handful of passengers who are jerked off their feet when the light turns green and the bus takes off. They always look surprised, even though it happens to them at every stop.

For the science grads in the crowd, this is Newton's First Law, which roughly translates as: "If you're not holding on when the bus takes off, you're going to end up on your butt." The second part of that scientific principle is that it is more likely to happen if you're holding a cup of scalding coffee. Newton must have taken the bus to work too.

And I don't get to play my favorite game anymore: Guess your neighbour's psychological problem. Now the only person's sanity I have to worry about is my own. It was almost as much fun as playing "Name That Skin Disease" or "Guess What I Have Under This Bandage".

I miss coming home early and riding with high school students and playing body-piercing bingo. To play you mentally divide the human face into a tic-tac-toe board, and mark off the places you find metal studs on your fellow passengers.

When you get a full board (or face), you yell bingo.

Then everyone on the bus gets to look at you and wonder who the nut is.

 

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