Thursday, July 29, 2010

Public transit etiquette.

(Picture from

I started an intensive summer session of school this week which requires me to be downtown on campus Mon-Thurs, which means I've been able to take the ultra-convenient bus line every day that takes me from right outside my house directly to campus in about twenty minutes (depending on traffic). I have been anticipating this switch to public trans from the car-commuting-to-the-'burbs for my job I have been doing for over two years (I am quitting very very soon, which feels strange) with total excitement and relief. Know what's a lot better than sitting in traffic in my car? Reading a book. Or napping. And not paying for gas. My love for public transit really expands beyond what I have time to type right now, but I'll just say that in general I am a big, big fan for multiple reasons.

Know what I'm not a big fan of, though? All those jerkfaces who do not adhere to public trans etiquette, who exist on every subway line, every light rail line, every bus in every city. I feel like in Boston and other East Coast big cities most of the people who rode public transit were more on the ball, more learned in this etiquette, and there was just the exception of the occasional tourist and/or normal jerkface. But I feel like a lot of people in Portland just really don't get it. Like, they honestly DO NOT KNOW how to move back on a bus, or on a MAX, or on the streetcar, etc., (Portland has too many forms of public trans), even when there are twenty people completely crunched up into each other in the first five feet of the bus with absolutely NO ONE taking up the aisle in the back of the bus. This frustrates me even when I am happily sitting in a seat. Just watching the stupidity and the inefficiency of the situation gets me riled up. MOVE BACK, PEOPLE. MOVE. ON. BACK. It would be so much better for everyone!! Also, lesson #2: there are two seats to each row. When they are both empty, and you sit down, you sit in the one CLOSEST TO THE WINDOW so that the next person can sit down, too. I have been in buses where almost every aisle seat is taken and every window seat stays empty, while there are people standing. Yes, I could technically ask you to move and/or awkwardly step over your lap into that seat, and I do see people doing that, but for some reason I lack the boldness. Perhaps because the fact that I shouldn't have to bothers me so much that I'm too stubborn to actually do it. So I stand, and stare at people, and stew, instead. (I credit this to genes from my grandpa.) Also, biggest lesson of all: YOUR BAG DOES NOT DESERVE ITS OWN SEAT. If it's an empty bus, by all means. But I have seen bags occupying seats while there are elderly people who are about to keel over any minute, and/or hardworking people in scrubs who have probably been standing all day/night helping sick people, standing in the aisle next to them. And then also let's talk about the people who lay down over two seats/prop their sneakers up on the seat next to them like they are in their living room, ALL WHILE THE ELDERLY STANDING PEOPLE ARE ABOUT TO CROAK RIGHT NEXT TO THEM. Even if I'm coming from the airport and have a huge suitcase to lug around, I will do my best to scrunch up my knees as awkwardly around it as possible if I have to. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.

I understand this is a blog to write about things I like, so this bit of ranting is diverting from the philosophy of the blog, but I can bend my way around that by saying 1) it's my blog and I can do what I want, and 2) I do like people who do know public trans etiquette. In addition to all the jerkfaces, I have also seen countless kind people do the normal and/or generous thing. In one small example, today a stranger helped a woman close up her stroller, which she was having difficulty doing being that she was holding her baby while trying to maneuver the clunky thing herself. The stranger walked over, helped her out, gave a nod, and quietly returned to their seat. In truth, one of the reasons I love public trans so much is because you see more of the reality of your community and also more random acts of humanity than perhaps anywhere else.

But seriously, jerkfaces. Get your act together.

1 comment:

  1. and don't forget about when our bus driver saved our lives!!!