Monday, May 05, 2014

Bus Trials And Tribulations

Today's TheTrainInVain blog post comes from my friend Jill.  Jill and I both grew up in Rockland County, where the best way to get to midtown Manhattan is by bus.  Jill is raising her family there, and she shares a story of how a novice commuter learned the unwritten rules of bus etiquette.

When I first began commuting from Rockland County to Manhattan via Coach bus, my husband was already a 10-year veteran.  He gave me tips and tricks on how to get a good seat, avoid "undesirables" sitting next to me, and stay away from trouble with other passengers.  But I was brazen, and blew off the seemingly overcautious and strange rules he explained to me.  Instead of heeding his advice, I learned from the school of experience.

You wait your turn! On one of my first trips, we arrived at the terminal and the bus stopped.  I made the mistake of getting out of my seat and into the aisle, out of turn. Out of turn?  Yes.  There is a protocol to bus egress.  I didn't know that I was supposed to wait for the passengers in the seats ahead of me to depart first.  And it goes even further.  The right side has to depart before the left side.  For this mistake, I was heckled by the savvier commuters.  "Oh, she must be busier than everyone else."  

I was indignant and surprised.  I called my husband for moral support, and he sided with the other commuters and told me that I was supposed to wait my turn.  I was angry, and huffed and puffed about it, but I learned and did not do that again.  I prefer not to have people yell at me.

You wait in line!  Another time, I was waiting for the bus to come.  I was standing at the hometown bus stop, and I learned another protocol.  Unlike waiting for a train, where everyone stands in a group and piles into the train when the doors open, you wait in a line.  When you arrive at the bus stop, you take your place at the back of the line.  One day, we were all lined up, and I was last in the line.  When the bus arrived, instead of stopping at the front of the line, the bus stopped right in front of me. "Sweet," I thought! Best seat goes to me!  

I started to board, but was nearly lynched by the other riders.  Boarding a suburban bus is different from a public city bus, as I found out.  Again, I called my husband for some support, and again he took the side of the other commuters.  He said, "it's like a snake, the tail follows the head." He was saying that the back of the line fans out behind the front of the line.  Front of the line gets on first.  Oops.

I learn these rules every day.  As the years pass, I've learned to step in lock formation. Now, I see incidents with other "newbies" and laugh.  I hope they have bus "mentors" like my husband was to me.  

Commuting on public transit is not for everyone, but it's certainly never dull.  

I hope you enjoyed my "guest post" from the "Land of Rocks," as David calls it.

Thanks again, Jill, for your contribution.  I think all forms of transportation would benefit immensely if "Rule Mentoring" was offered.  It could be like those defensive driving courses to lower auto insurance.  If you can prove you've taken a Rule Mentoring course, you get a 10% discount on fares.  Naturally, I'd be happy to write the curriculum.  If they asked nicely.

Twitter: @davidrtrainguy

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