On Public Transit

I went to Safeway in the depths of the night, which is a tale for another day, and came back with ligature marks on my shoulders. I think I’ve been watching too much CSI lately, because I imagined the comments which might ensue during my autopsy as some dashing forensic pathologist tried to figure it out. The marks, of course, were from the heavy canvas straps of my fully laden grocery bags, which dug into my shoulders on the bus ride home, since I was forced to stand in the aisle.

And they got me thinking about riding public transit, and basic etiquette.

I mean, everyone knows you stand for seniors, disabled people, and pregnant women. Right? It seems pretty basic to me that if I am sitting down and I see someone who needs a seat more than I do, I should probably get up. It’s no sweat off my back to stand, normally. Of course, I also stand when I see someone with heavy grocery bags, or if someone appears to be having difficulty breathing. Others, apparently, do not feel this way, and are quite happy to sit and gossip with their friends while someone stands grimly in front of them, groping for an inhaler, with their grocery bags cutting angry red lines into their arms.

Oh, did I mention that I was in the beginning of the line for the bus and that a bunch of people cut in front of me?

What is it with people and not understanding the basic rules of courtesy on public transit?

1. Always let everyone get off the bus/train/boat/whatever before boarding. Please stand off to the side, allowing people to completely disembark. The train isn’t leaving without you. I promise.

2. Yield seats to people who need them more than you. Yes, I’m talking about you, smug businessman reading Fortune.

3. KEEP RIGHT! Jesus Christ, people, if you’re on an escalator and you want to stand, which is totally cool, KEEP RIGHT. Other people are racing to catch the train which is pulling into the station, or needing to make a connection on the surface. They walk, on the left. Or they are just assholes. You know, whatever. Just keep right. And keep your spawn right, too, or they’re going to get the evil eye and start crying. (Look, dude, the kid was running UP a DOWN escalator and I was trapped in the midst of half an elementary school, and I was tired, and I had about 40 pounds of library books.)

4. Uh, yeah, you with the huge piles of crap. Please pull it out of the aisle and off of the seat, and don’t glare at me when I ask you to do so. Believe me, I would sit, er, anywhere else, except that there is nowhere to sit. I also somehow manage to not take up three seats with my crap when I have a lot of belongings.

5. Books, headphones, and newspapers mean “please don’t talk to me.”

6. Voice modulation is a virtue. So is not using your cellphone in public. You also don’t need to sing along with your headphones, really.

7. Bathe. Please. That’s all I ask. I know that we can’t all smell rosy all the time, and I was a case in point earlier this evening, but…the manky sour smell of a long unwashed body is a terrible thing. Especially when you clearly have a home. And don’t pay your utilities. Because you live on a former military base. So it’s not like you pay to shower. Just bathe!

8. Please don’t harass the driver. It’s really not at all entertaining for the driver, and you’re going to hold the entire bus up with your cute antics while we wait for the police to come. Don’t fuck with MUNI, man.

9. You may want to possibly consider organizing your fare or bus pass before you get onto public transit, rather than holding everyone else up. Just a thought.

I feel as though living by these nine simple rules would be highly beneficial for us all. Public transit would run more smoothly and be more enjoyable to ride…and you would seem like so much less of an asshole. So let’s work on it, people.

[public transit]