Monday, 13 September 2010

Surviving a crowded City Express Bus

After waiting ten minutes for an Express bus you begin to wonder if you have lost the advantage of the Express portion.  Three empty buses rattle on and I check my watch, (the bus is late), and glance at the lineup (people always squeeze in from the wrong end of the line.)  I also begin to wonder if I can do this "bus riding" thing after driving or taking the Go Train to work for years.  But if GO transit keeps raising their prices, I can't justify taking the train and then taking the TTC as well when I get off at the other end, so I am trying to take the bus all the way.
  It's surprising the difference in custom nowadays.  People elbow you unabashedly instead of subversively.  They squeeze in front of you without a backwards guilty glance.  Things have obviously changed.  In we go.  Stuffed like sardines and those empty buses and a few extra minutes begin to look good.

  You never know what awkward, contorted position you will have to maintain for the extent of the ride.  You always think you will get a chance to take another step and then it's "freeze."  That's it.  You look at the small spaces between people at the back, them standing all clam and dignified, you one arm over your head backwards, two bags over your shoulders and facing the wrong direction.  You never know whose hand you will end up touching, whose body will be pressed against yours, whose elbow in your back, breath on your neck.  You must remember how much money you will save at moments like this.  You can buy nice things with the saved money.  Imagine that.
  I am beside the bus driver.  I end up watching him or peeking out a small space between people to the outside.  He is 350 pounds and doesn't care about nothin'.  Some bus drivers will control the crowd, telling you to move back to keep the front window clear, to step off the bus because it is too crowded, to move back to make room for people in the front.  Nope.  He announces "doors are closing" and closes them.  I can hear somebody struggling to pull their purse inside as he drives away.   He has his reading glasses on the top of his head, sunglasses on his eyes and when the dashboard sounds an alarm signal that makes everyone turn their attention to the front of the bus and look at him, he ignores it.  After 57 beeps, he takes off his sunglasses, puts on his reading glasses, peers at the small display and silences the alarm.   Then he goes back to chewing a toothpick.
  At least he is a good driver.  He knows how to drive a packed bus.  Each stop and start is smooth and even, not drastic and sudden, tumbling everyone forward or backwards upon the closest foot.  Even when he enters the bus station and has to make those three spiral circles that always make me spin and twirl while hanging onto the handrail over my head, his driving is smooth and even - perhaps his attitude is the secret to surviving this chaos and perhaps there is much to be learned from is "Easy Does It" demeanor.  I should try that, I think, as I grab my bags and scramble on with the crowd to catch the subway downtown.
Toronto downtown

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