Monday, January 3, 2011

What Kind of Bus Rider Are You?

Most riders are great! A select few... not so much.
As much as I love biking around DC and walking around DC, I'm usually on the bus when I need to get somewhere quickly. Yes, often choosing the bus over Metro. Almost all of us who ride regularly are great folks; working class, students, day laborers, party kids, commuters, whomever. We just want to get where we're going safely and on time.

However, we have various ideas about bus etiquette and the unwritten rules of public transit. Here are some of my favorite quirky riders and the tendencies that make me notice them as soon as I pay the fare and start to look for a seat.

The Leg Spreader - Almost always a man. You like to take two seats, but you don't use bags or packages. You use your legs. Spread as wide as possible. Feelin' the breeze. Sweet dude.

The Traveler - You refuse to take a cab to the airport, despite having to utilize all 5 bags of your 5 bag luggage set. You can barely carry (drag) them all, but you know you can save some cash by taking public transit. Even though it will take an extra hour. You take up, at the very least, two seats.

I Only Take Calls on the Bus - You only take cell phone calls on the bus. You are loud and at some point have to drop in a line like "Whaaat!?! Oh my gawwwwd, I was just in Prague."

I Only Take Sensitive Calls on the Bus - Very much like "I Only Take Calls on the Bus," but your conversations are likely to involve a variation on "Oh, thank goodness - yeah, test came back negative. You too?... Want to come over later?"

Driver's Buddy - Most bus drivers really only want to talk to you if they know you or if you are asking a bus related question. You like to engage the driver in some irrelevant topic which they have no interest hearing or talking about. Usually a twisted take on local politics. Or sports.

The Outside Seater - Obvious etiquette dictates that the first person to sit move to the seat closest to the window. But you refuse, standing your ground in the outside seat until the bus is literally full. Then, you may relent and move over the the empty inside seat. But only if glared at, asked to move or climbed over by another rider. Use of bags to cover the empty seat is a common tactic.

Backpacker - I know what your backpack tastes like. It's hit me in the mouth 5 times, even after I pushed you away and you said "Oh, I'm sorry!" Still hitting me. Still. Now, even. Yes.

What's SmarTrip? - You get on waving a paper Metro farecard and complaining that our system is quite inferior to New York City's. You "don't have any cash" and also "don't know what a SmarTrip card is" and the driver waves you on without paying. I suspect you've done this before.

I'm First and I'm Refilling My SmarTrip Card Right Now - Refilling the SmarTrip card on the bus can be harrowing. The process is not intuitive and the machine makes a loud nasty buzzing sound when you mess up. However, you like to get on the bus first and refill your card. With a bunch of one dollar bills. Very slowly while others wait. Next time, be nice and let everyone else get on first.

Aisle Squatter - When the bus starts to fill, and you are standing, you should start moving to the back of the bus. It's just nice. People can't walk around you in the aisle, and the front of the bus is really crowded with standees. The back is literally a ghost town. Just remember that. And it looks bad from the outside.

The Nice Guy or Girl - You are just nice. Giving up your seat to someone who looks like they need it. Pulling the yellow cord for me when I can't reach. Yelling "BACK DOOR" when the doors closed on another rider. And you always thank the driver because they do in fact have a tough job. Just a quality DC person who happens to ride the bus. Luckily there are more of you than the others (I think). I like to think this one is me. I hope it is!