For several years, my sister has been telling me my bus stories are worth writing about. In an attempt to give a view into the life of a commuter, and maybe provide a few laughs, here’s a rundown of personalities I have come across in my 5 + years of commuting. While these examples are taken from my own experiences riding a commuter bus each day into Washington, DC, they can certainly apply in other commuting situations. Some may even be familiar to you. I hope you’ll take away some subtlety disguised ‘bus etiquette’ suggestions, as well.
- The Talker – This person wants you to know all about their day. Once you make eye contact, it’s all over. You will be subjected to a lengthy conversation all the way to your stop, at the expense of every other person on the bus who was hoping for a peaceful ride.
- The BFF (yeah, you didn’t know you had one on the bus, did you?) – This person knows you by name because, well, you were dumb enough to tell him your actual name months ago. Now he pleasantly greets you each time to get on the bus, waving you to sit next to him, whether you want to or not. You may need to start boarding at a different stop and wearing large hats and sunglasses as a disguise.
- The Newspaper Shuffler – There is this one person on the bus who doesn’t own a Kindle or SmartPhone, and she is sitting next to you. Enjoy listening to the rustle of paper all the way to work, while also being elbowed each time she turns to the next page.
- The Bag Lady (this could be me) – This person has entirely too many bags to carry on the bus. It is quite possible one of these bags wouldn’t even qualify as a carry-on through most airlines. But she’s dragging that damn thing on board and pulling it ten rows back, all the while grunting. Couldn’t she have driven in today?
- The Hot Meal Eater – While I am happy that the person in front of me was organized enough at 6:30 a.m. to make it to Dunkin Donuts, I really wish he had gotten a donut. Instead, my stomach growls while I smell the aroma of his coffee and hot breakfast sandwich taking over the entire bus. And heaven forbid he brings on dinner… If you are going to order pizza, get enough for everyone!
- The Complainer – This person will huff and puff at every extra inconvenience. Bus late? Time to let the driver know (cause he certainly wasn’t aware). Stuck in traffic? She will express her annoyance and possibly mutter possible alternative route suggestions. Bus too hot? She was make everyone aware, even though we are all sweating and the A/C is obviously broken.
- The Body (or Smoke or Cologne) Odor Person – You know what I love better than a person who doesn’t shower? A person who doesn’t shower sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME for the next hour. Oh, and if it’s not that that gets me, it’ll be the second-hand smoke from the chain smoker who put out that last cigarette as they were boarding the bus. Hey, at least we aren’t in Mad Men. Then they wouldn’t even bother putting it out.
- Techno Earbud Guy – I love some good dance music, but when I’m overhearing it pumping through the headphones of a guy sitting three rows away, and at 6:30 in the morning, it can be a bit annoying. No wonder — % of Americans suffer from hearing loss.
- Always Asleep So I Don’t Have to Share My Seat Lady – This person appears to have taken sleeping pills despite the fact that she boarded two minutes before you. Don’t dare try to wake her and ask her to move her stuff so you can sit down; just find another seat. You’ll thank me later.
- Too Important to Not Take That Call Guy – Ah, yes, it wouldn’t be DC if there wasn’t THAT guy on the bus. The one who is so important, it is amazing he was able to pull himself away from his desk. Inevitably, his phone will ring and it will be something REALLY important that is work-related. He will talk just loud enough (and either mention a senator or some foreign trip he’ll soon be taking) so that everyone on the bus will feel his utter importance and bow in humble acknowledgment. I’ll just roll my eyes…
The daily commute can be an absolute pain and is definitely not something I look forward to, but the stories I have to share at dinner parties are enough to (almost) make it worthwhile to spend the bus fare. Alas, I am now joining the ranks of the commuter pool and will be driving in with a complete stranger each day. Now I get to deal with one random personality each morning and afternoon, instead of 50. At least he is a non-smoker, so he’s got that going for him.