Chronicle of a Bus Rider

Guilty Car-Owner Post

So, I have a car now.

His name is Clyde.

I shouldn’t have named him. Everyone knows that once you name them, there’s no going back.

It’s weird having a car. I feel less connected to the area around me. When I rode buses all the time, I felt a kinship with the people I passed on the street. Now I feel like an independent person who can leave the house after dark and get places on time on the weekends. Wait, those are both good things…

I miss some things about bus-riding. There’s a strange mix of humility and pride that comes with riding buses. “I’m ashamed because I don’t own a car, but I can ride a bus like a PRO.” Something like that.

Car-riding is quite different. It’s tempting to ignore the journey and only appreciate the destination. I’m finding ways to go against that urge, but it’s a constant battle. I work hard to identify the times when I’m just using the radio to dodge my own thoughts. I try to look at the trees alongside the road as much as safety will permit. I revel in the view of an empty road stretched out in front of me, and even more in the same empty road in my rearview mirror. I love listening to “Smart People Radio” (WAMU88.5 FOR THE WIN. Also, Classical WETA FOR ANOTHER WIN) and actually having a vague idea what’s happening in the world at large. I can go places, both for fun and for work, that a bus would never allow.

Of course, I no longer have to beg rides from people to get places. That is wonderful for my pride and sense of independence; I always hated having to ask. Still, riding with other people helped solidify my relationships with them. Now, one of my favorite parts of having a car is being able to offer rides to other people.

So, having a car is both good and bad. The main thing I’ve learned from having a car is that the person being transported will be the same regardless of the form of transportation. I can try to appreciate rides in the car in the same way I tried to appreciate rides on the bus, or I can just tune out the journey and bury my head in Smart People Radio every time I drive. It’s my choice.

I hope to still ride public transportation on occasion. Maybe I’ll blog about it when I do. Who knows? Maybe Clyde will break down soon and I’ll have a whole SLEW of bus rides to blog about!

Cold Weather Makes Me Want to Buy a Car

I picked a pretty awesome day to start blogging again.

I went to the library, Panera, and the store today, so I rode a total of four different buses.

On Bus One, there was a fellow with a large number of things tattooed onto his bald head. The fellow sitting behind him asked if the ones on the very back of his head were the Greek alphabet. Tattoo Man said yes, then promptly changed his mind and said that they were something else. When he got off the bus, all I saw was a pyramid with an eye in the middle. See what he did there? He’s got an EYE IN THE BACK OF HIS HEAD! Ahahahahahahaha…. Ahem.

A lady a few seats back from me seemed to like repeating herself into her phone. First she said, “Call Stacy!” three times. Then she said, “I got the phone box!” two times (I assume she was referencing a message, not a TARDIS). Finally, she yelled, “Ok, I’ll see ya later!” three times.

My parting gift from Bus One was an adorable little German cockroach crawling past my feet on the floor.

Bus Two only yielded a man with a mustache so perfect that it literally looked like he had held two rectangular stencils above his lip and filled them in with a Sharpie marker.

Bus Three. Oh Bus Three. That was by far my favorite. Before Bus Three arrived, a homeless guy in a big poofy jacket tried to make conversation with a quiet Hispanic guy in a red beanie. Homeless Man’s two Homeless Friends were there as well. One was wearing neon green “Shutter Shades” (at least, that’s what Google tells me they’re called), and the other had on a hat with a neon pink band around it. Homeless Man explained to Quiet Hispanic Guy that they were his best friends and that he had been homeless for nine years. Two minutes later, it was eight years. Two more minutes later, he apparently decided to average the two and said that he had been homeless for eight and a half years. He then pushed his earbud at Quiet Hispanic Guy and asked if he liked that song. QHG had never heard it before.

On the bus, I squished myself into a seat in the front between two slightly larger, old-ish women. I didn’t mind the tightness; it was cold outside, so any additional warmth was welcome. Across from me sat two interesting people. The first was Mousy Old Woman! She had her leopard print purse with her as usual, though she wasn’t reading a book today. Next to her was a large black man in a brown hoody and a brown beanie with Obama’s face on it. This man was very, very tired. He was obviously falling asleep in his seat. His legs were spread pretty widely, and as he drifted off, he leaned farther and farther forward, occasionally jerking his arms to the sides, like he was swimming in slow motion. At one point, he grabbed at MOW’s leopard-print purse in that weird, sleepy fashion. When the older lady on my left got off the bus, MOW promptly switched seats.

Bus Four took way too long to get to the bus stop. I got so cold that I wrapped my scarf around my head to keep my ears warm. When it did arrive, I found a small sliver of seat next to a guy in a red sweatshirt.

A few rows up, I could see a woman who looked like black Patricia Neal (Feel free to Google her). She had the same high cheek bones, the same pretty smile, and the same sparkling eyes. She looked like she was in her early fifties, but based on her conversation, she had gotten her drivers license two years earlier. Perhaps there’s hope for me after all…

A tween boy and his dad ran to catch Bus Four. When they got on, the boy leaned over and put his hands on his knees, panting like he was going to die. “He’s like an old man,” said Patricia Neal with a laugh to the lady next to her. When the boy and his dad walked past them, the lady, who had on a brown headscarf, got the dad’s attention. She handed him some change and asked him to give it to someone in the back of the bus. He pointed to clarify. She nodded.

When the father reached the back of the bus, I heard him call, “This one?” The woman confirmed that he had picked the right person.

“God bless you!” the presumably homeless man yelled, upon receiving the change.

“God bless you!” the woman called back.

Thus ended my first day back at bus-blogging.

Bus Ride in the Haze

I usually try not to say where I’m from on this blog, but the title simply wouldn’t work without the word “Haze.”

So. I went home for a few weeks not too long ago. Home is Hazleton, Pennsylvania. I hope that narrows it down for all you serial killers on the internet trying to hunt me down and rip out my entrails and such.

While home, I was absolutely determined to ride a bus, all for the love of blog. So… I did!

Of course, I got lost trying to find the bus station. I’m regularly baffled by just how much better I am at getting around Baltimore, where I’ve spent two summers, than I am at getting around Hazleton, where I’ve lived since I was six. Meh, such is life.

When I found the station, the bus was sitting there, ready to depart. The destination? The Laurel Mall. It’s like a normal mall, except smaller and without any bookstores because Hazleton is awful and no one reads there.

….That might be a slight hyperbole, especially coming from someone who worked in Hazleton’s library for two years (and still loves it and thinks it’s one of the best libraries ever), but that’s ok. This is a blog. No one takes blogs seriously.

The first difference I noticed between Hazleton’s buses and Baltimore’s buses was the money-collector-machine-thing. In Baltimore, those are automated. The one in the Hazleton bus was not automated. Instead, it was literally a plastic box with a slit in the top. I don’t know if all of Hazleton’s buses are like that, but it kind of weirded me out. Fortunately, Hazleton’s fares are cheaper than Baltimore’s, so I was quick to forgive the weirdness and board anyway.

The first and most predictable difference between the people on the Hazy bus and those on Baltimore buses was the ethnic difference. The second was the “small-town” feel vs. the “big city” feel. Baltimore isn’t huge, but it is more huge than Hazleton, and though some people in Baltimore know the drivers personally, I don’t see it all that often. It was different in Hazleton.

“20th Street for me, John!” The old man was wearing a white tee-shirt tucked into olive green pants. He also had on a black ball cap and old man sneakers (It’s a brand. What? You didn’t know about Old Man Sneakers?). “No, 20th, John, this is 19th, I think. 20th for me, John.” Old Man was sitting near the back with two other Old Men. They all seemed to know each other and the bus driver. “Right here, John, here at 20th St.” After calling out this final direction, he walked off the bus, having finally arrived at the much-acclaimed 20th St.

A little Hispanic boy in a red and white striped polo was sitting in a stroller in the center aisle. When he dropped his bottle on the floor, I picked it up for him. His mom, whose nails were vivid blue (from nail polish, not illness), thanked me despite the cel phone she was holding to her ear.

A few minutes later, he dropped it again, and I’m pretty sure he looked at me before he did it. I felt flattered.

An overweight woman in blue yelled into her phone, “I’m not giving you $100! I’m not giving you $50!” She proceeded to argue about money for much of the ride.

“See ya, Frank!” the bus driver called as Old Man 2 got off the bus.

It was then that I looked back and realized that I recognized the third Old Man. I had seen him in the library before. On this day, he was wearing a dark blue, long sleeve, thermal shirt, dark jeans, and blue canvas shoes. He had brown, rather stringy hair, and when he got off the bus, he more shuffled off than walked off. He was carrying  a black bag that looked like a small body bag, but that doesn’t mean anything! There could have been anything in that bag. Just because it looked lumpy and body-shaped doesn’t mean that it was, in fact, holding a body. It was probably laundry. Yes. Laundry. Or something else that wasn’t a body.

An Old Man apparently unconnected to the Three Old Men got off a bit later. He was wearing a sweater and had a jacket over top of it. For some reason, I always assume that old men with white hair who wear sweaters with jackets over them are from the UK. I’m not sure why. I blame the BBC.

When I reached the mall, I found myself in a slightly uncomfortable dilemma. The dilemma was this: I didn’t actually want to be at the mall. As everyone knows, malls are no fun without parents around to buy stuff for you or friends to share your boredom and make it slightly less boring and slightly more awkward. I had literally ridden the bus solely for the sake of riding a bus. Now what?

I waffled around for a bit in the mall entryway before lurking back outside to see if there were any other buses headed back into town. There weren’t. The one that I had just left was still there, but I wasn’t going to re-board it, because then the bus driver would give me a weird look and I would feel oh so embarrassed.

I therefore resigned myself to the inevitable and wasted the next fifty minutes drifting through the mall. I didn’t even have a book with me, because I had somehow overlooked the fact that I would have to do something between bus rides. I did get to pet puppies though, so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

On the ride back, we made a stop at Wal-Mart, which is at the bottom of a hill. Instead of pulling right up to the stop, however, we barreled down the hill and into a side parking lot. It kind of creeped me out, because the lot was pretty abandoned and shady-looking.

Was the bus about to fall victim to some sort of mass kidnapping? Was the driver really a -shifty glance – sinister character?

Then some guy in a back  brace waved the driver around and I realized that we were just there so the bus could turn around. It was a relief, though somewhat anticlimactic.

The only other interesting thing I saw on the drive home was the Greater Hazleton Kidney Center. The Greater Hazleton Kidney Center should not be funny at all. It sounds like a very serious medical establishment. Still,  being the mature person that I am, the name made me giggle. Greater Hazleton apparently has a lot of kidneys. So many kidneys, in fact, that they need a center.

*sigh* I will grow up, some day, I really will.

While driving through town, I pulled the cord a bit early, as the bus passed near my house on the way to the station. To my surprise, the driver stopped almost immediately at a place that had no “bus stop” sign. I thanked him profusely and walked off into the late afternoon sunshine, thinking that Hazleton was a pretty nice place after all.

Thus ended my Hazy bus adventure. Stay tuned for more Baltimore-based content, coming soon (or whenever I feel like it).

Driving and Why It Is Stupid

Driving. It is stupid.

I’ve been home with my parents for the last few weeks. I plan to, hope to, would love to maybe take a bus ride here, as I’ve never ridden one in my hometown, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ve been too busy pretending to be productive.

I’ve also been busy learning to drive. Apparently, when you reach the age of twenty-two, not having a driver’s license becomes something of a taboo. I kind of just want to get the darn thing so I can stick it in my wallet and never have to think about it again.

I hate driving. It is stupid.

I do not currently have my license because, when I was eighteen years old, I failed the driving portion of the test. Twice. Then college happened and I was too busy to think about it much.

The first time I took the test, the fellow asked me to show him where the button for the hazard lights was. I did not know. He therefore would not let me drive. The test was over in less than five minutes. That was rather disappointing. After all, it wasn’t like I would forget where the dang button was after my mom (who had walked over to see what the hold-up was) showed it to me. Ah well.

The second time I took the test, I actually got to drive. When we returned to the center, the fellow (a different fellow, actually) said to me, “Well, you got a lot of points.”

Points, as it happens, are bad.

So, here I am, twenty-two and devoid of a license. A laughingstock. “A social pariah,” if I may quote Downton Abbey (I got my mom hooked. Hehehe.).

Two weeks ago, I got my second permit without difficulty. The permit test, so long as I read through the book beforehand, is kind of insulting. I didn’t even get through the book this time because I started too late. So, at least I know I’m still good at test-taking, if nothing else.

The first time I learned to drive, my dad said something about “going around the block a few times.” I insisted on going over the basics in a parking lot somewhere, as I didn’t know how to drive. Upon arriving at the parking lot, he was kind of shocked that I didn’t know which pedal was which. This is why I had said that I “didn’t know how to drive.” I actually did not know how to drive. Imagine that.

This time around, I made the same request, as I hadn’t driven in four years. My dad was, again, surprised and thought that I should just drive around the block a few times. I’m not sure why he has such difficulty grasping the concept that driving is not actually like riding a bike and that it is, in fact, something that can be forgotten. In any case, I went from the parking lot to the road much more quickly this time.

This is not necessarily a good thing, because, as I have stated before, driving is stupid.

Driving is stupid for many reasons. The first and most important reason is this: Other Drivers.

Other Drivers are stupid. Other Drivers are overconfident. Other Drivers make me nervous.

When I am nervous, I yell.

A lot.

“WHAT THE FLIP IS THAT GUY DOING?!?!” That Guy had crossed over the road I was driving on because he needed to get onto a side street. This would not have been problematic had he not been hauling a GINORMOUS thing of some sort behind his vehicle. It therefore took him way longer to cross in front of me and made me scared because HOLY MACARONI, I COULD HAVE HIT HIM HAD I NOT SLOWED DOWN ENOUGH.

As I sidenote, I frequently use “flip” as a substitute for a stronger word. My mother does not approve. However, it is my personal opinion that any word that can be used to form the phrase “mother-flipping,” which brings to my mind a really, really funny picture of someone literally flipping their mother in the air over their heads, in place of a very horrible phrase, simply has to be acceptable.

Sorry I went all “Apostle Paul” on you there; I’ll try to use more periods in the future.

Along with yelling, I also drive pretty slowly, more so when I am nervous.

Last night, I drove home from my grandparents’ house with my mom in the passenger seat. We went through a construction zone, the kind where they put those evil, murderous cement barricades on either side of the road. Oh I hate those barricades.

After maybe five minutes of single-lane driving interspersed with Devil Barricades, we finally reached a two-lane stretch of road.

As the Devil Barricades are rather intimidating, I didn’t think that going forty miles per hour while driving between them was too ludicrous a thing to do.

The approximately ten cars that roared past me within two minutes of being on the two-lane road apparently thought otherwise.

I think I’ll stick to buses, if it’s all the same to you.

Cabin Fever

I didn’t leave the house yesterday because I didn’t buy a bus pass this week. Thus, logically, I had to leave the house with a vengeance today.

On the way to the city (the library, to be specific. Oh Harry Potter…), I was a bit too dazed with how wonderful it was to be out of the house to notice much about the people on the bus.

There was this one guy though! It was hard to tell exactly how old he was. He had on black shorts, a black tee shirt, black sneakers, and a white ball cap. His head seemed too small for his body, like it had been shrunken like those heads in Indiana Jones movies. His mouth seemed too wide for his little head. He also had a really prominent tendon (muscle? sinew? I dunno.) in his neck. It looked creepy. Anyway. He seemed pretty out of it. His lips moved sometimes, like he was talking to himself. Sometimes he would look up at people. He caught my eyes a few times. Then other times he would go quiet, close his eyes, and smile while bobbing his head slowly back and forth, like he was listening to good music. It was kind of sad, actually.

Come to think of it, a lot of the things I describe on here are kind of sad. Good thing this is a humor blog or it could get really depressing…

On the way home, I boarded the bus while on the phone with my AWESOME mother, who is also this blog’s biggest fan, if I’m not mistaken (unless that’s my grandmother, but she doesn’t get a shout-out today, ’cause that might make my mom jealous). She’s super cool. You should all (assuming you’re my friend on FB) send her messages saying how cool she is.

There was a black girl on the bus with hair that basically looked like Pippi Longstocking had undone her braids and let them hang limply down her back in a sad, skinny ponytail. It might have been a wig… Maybe. She was also wearing big, diamond-studded heart-shaped earrings.

There was a guy in a business suit sitting near me. His tie was kind of corny, and his shoes were black and…. I don’t know how to describe them other than to say that they were “three-tiered.” Have fun with that mental picture. In any case, it was like he was compensating for something by wearing those shoes.

There were three different guys up front who had buzzed blonde hair and tattoos. One was standing right next to my seat. He had on a camo cap. I thought he looked down at me in kind of a creepy way, but then he helped an overweight old lady in a loud, floral shirt get into the seat next to me (which had just been vacated by a thin, blonde old lady with short hair and a brown shirt), so he would obviously never look at anyone in a creepy way. Duh.

Actually, now I think about it, the lady didn’t want to be helped, and she kind of waved him off. Anyway.

The other two guys both had on black tee shirts. A big, young-ish lady in a purple shirt practically fell on one of them when the bus started moving. I think they were together. She said to him, “I’m gonna end up on the floor. I can’t ride it like this.” She was laughing. Her face was pretty, with light brown eyes and an easy smile. His face was less pretty.

When the guy in the business suit got off, I’m pretty sure I figured out what he was compensating for. Based on what I’ve heard of that neighbor, it doesn’t sound awesome…

Last thing: I need to introduce you to this lady I see all the time! She works at a store on the route, and I see her going to or from work pretty often. She wears a polo, khakis, and white sneakers. She’s maybe fifty-something, and her shoulder-length grey hair is always pulled back with a pink scrunchy. I shall call her Scrunchy Woman.

She didn’t do anything interesting today. I just wanted you to meet her, as she’s a kind of a regular here. Say hello!

Rude.

Guest Blogging!

My dear friend Hannah visited me last week because my family was away on vacation (and because that’s what best friends do. They visit.).

I asked her if she would be willing to ride the bus with me and make a few observations for my blog. She has kindly obliged. Here is the chronicle of Hannah’s August 8th bus ride (with my comments in brackets):

It is probably dumb. Feel free to edit it as much as you like. :) [Wait, I don't think I was supposed to publish that bit....]
Well, I feel a little awkward being here. This is definitely Allie’s turf so I am feeling a bit like an intruder even though she invited me. [Aww, no, best friend, you are nothing of the sort!] This past week I visited her in Baltimore and we rode the bus together. She then asked me to be a guest blogger. Of course that means she will annotate what I say, which is only fair. [Hehe, I'm glad you think so!]
 
May I begin by saying that riding the bus sitting beside busrider42 is an experience in itself? [Oh dear. I promise I didn't ask her to make me look good here. Anything flattering she says was written under her own volition.] Allie looked around taking in the surroundings for a bit before she whipped out her little notebook and began quickly writing witty observations. [Honestly, I might have been a *bit* more intent than usual since I had an audience this time.] She only writes fragments and impressions. Later they will form the basis for the hilarious and thought provoking paragraphs that fill this entertaining corner of the blogosphere. [D'aw, stop it!] Allie would break her scribbling only to look around and to nudge me and whisper, “Are you noticing anything? Don’t forget it!  You need to write it on the blog later!” [Yeah, I might have badgered, just a tad... It made me nervous that she wasn't writing anything down!] If any of you ever happen to visit Baltimore, I hope you are lucky enough to catch a ride with busrider42.  Buses are never more interesting than when you have a diminutive blogger next to you noting the world in tiny, cramped, cursive. 
[YES! Other People, come see me! We can ride the bus and blog together! It'll be splendid!]
 
Well, only a few interesting things happened on the bus while I was there. When I boarded, I got all flustered trying to put my money into the ticket box/thing. [I thought I'd lost her up there for a minute. I should have stayed up front to help; next time, I will be a more hospitable bus hostess.] I almost put my coins in the wrong slot and the bus driver had to point out to me that the coins went in the slot labeled “COINS.” I felt dumb. The bus driver only laughed and said, “That’s what happens when you’ve been keepin’ it real since 1732!” Now thoroughly confused, I sort of laughed, “yeah, that’s right!” and then quickly headed for a seat. When I sat down, I looked down at the T-shirt I was wearing, and belatedly realized that my T-shirt had a picture of George Washington on it and it read, “Keepin’ It Real Since 1732.” Yeah…
 
The bus ride going into the city was rather uneventful after that (to me at least, Allie probably begs to differ). [Meh, ish. It wasn't the most eventful ride ever.] Oh, wait, there was a lady sitting in front of us who shouted her phone number into her cell phone. Apparently the fellow on the other end couldn’t hear her. I enjoyed watching Allie casually copy down the number the woman so loudly yelled in the bus. [It was pretty funny. She yelled 443 in increasingly loud tones three times, then finally yelled, "YES, 443! Barry, it's 443-240-****!" Poor Barry. She sounded quite irate.]
[Also on that ride: I noticed that the word "OUTLAW" was scratched into one of the windows on the back door. A woman in an orange and grey striped tank top walked by, her massive boobies sagging to her waist,  poor dear. An old, overweight woman smoking on the sidewalk was sporting a dark blue bikini top and tan shorts. It was far from flattering. Lastly, the lady seated next to poor Barry's lady friend was wearing lots and lots of purple.]
On the way back from the city, an older lady who seemed to be permanently bent in half sat across from us. She muttered to herself the whole ride as she counted her money pouch. I heard her say something about “90 buses.” She also had trouble getting off the bus – the back steps were too slippery so she had to slowly make her way out the front of the bus. 
[Hannah covered that lady pretty well. She looked homeless. She had on a pink skirt over a white dress with small diamond shapes on it. Both looked like they were made out of table-cloths. She sat with her legs far in front of her, spread wide apart, her body so low in the seat and so hunched forward that her head barely went above the back of the seat. Her afro was being held up in an off-kilter poof by a headband. At the end of the ride, she said something out loud about how it took her a while to get off because she was elderly. She wasn't kidding about either of those things.]
There were many children, many conversations, and many interesting people. Unfortunately, I am rather a plot-driven person, so I will live the character descriptions up to Allie. 
So, aside from making a fool of myself boarding the bus and listening to the angry woman and the elderly lady, nothing much happened. In my opinion at least. Not, I can assure you, in the opinion of the sharp-eyed and keen-witted busrider42. [Hehe. I sound like a superhero.]
[That's a pretty accurate sum-up. Those were by far the two most interesting people. Thank you, dear best friend, for guest-blogging for me! If anyone else wants to come blog with me, feel free! It'll be good times!]
Oh wait, I guess I can stop writing in brackets now that Hannah’s part is done. Except, I have nothing more to say. 
Bummer.

Sheepish and Long Overdue

Honestly folks, I’m not sure how this “every now and then blogging” thing is going to work out.

Usually, these days, when I ride the bus, it’s to go be social later in the day. I usually end up getting a ride home and arriving at home tired and too peopled-out (a word which here means: in need of not being in any contact with people for a while after having been in contact with way too many people in way too short a time) to blog. Also, I’m between jobs (or rather, between a job and an internship), so my life is all up in the air. Once things are settled, blogging might return to a state of semi-not-awfulness again. Hard to say. I’m horrible at doing things that don’t have concrete deadlines.

On August 10th, I had not planned to go on a bus. However, in the early afternoon, I realized that, horror of horrors, a dvd I had out of the library was due on August 10th. I prepared for an excursion into the city.

There are library branches closer to me than the main one in the city. However, the main branch is lovely enough that I can’t imagine going anywhere else, even if getting there does involve a bit of an expedition.

I arrived at the corner across from the bus stop just as the lights were about to change. The street perpendicular to the one I had to cross had a yellow light. My bus (or what I assumed was my bus, as I couldn’t actually see it from that angle) was ready to go as soon as the lights changed. I took a chance and booked it across. One of the cars honked at me, but I made it onto the bus. The driver was a nice guy with glasses. “Was that you that almost got hit there?” he asked. I nodded. He encouraged me to be careful, as I don’t want to get hit.

“No, that would not be preferable,” I said lightly.

“No, that wouldn’t be profitable at all,” he agreed. Close enough.

The front of this bus held an eclectic (thank you, spell check) group of people. There was a woman with a white do rag (Doo? Due? Dew? No idea, and I’m not going to google it. Keepin’ it real, folks) under her hat. It was a hat with a long brim, like an old man would wear, except not a newsie cap. Google tells me it’s a Kangol cap, but I think that’s a brand… Anyway. This lady was also wearing a loose, long-sleeved shirt with stripes on it and loose green pants. It looked kind of like a cheerful prison uniform from a Dickens novel.

There was also a fellow with tan, fluffy hair (by fluffy, I mean messy, I guess). He was wearing dark-tinted wire glasses, a grey tee-shirt, light blue jeans, and two rings on his left hand. One had a big blue stone in it, and the other had a big black stone. A woman in blue pajama pants with rubber ducks on them, a guy listening to earbuds and wearing an orange shirt, and a couple who both had their hair in tight braids (except hers were longer) rounded out the front of the bus.

I describe the people in the front in such detail because there was an unusual sense of unity in the group. Prison Lady pointed out the window and said that the name on the side of a locksmith truck was the same as the name of the demon who supposedly guards the gates of hell. Google isn’t helping me out on this one, which shouldn’t be a surprise at this point. In any case, the Braided Couple (the lady, specifically) commented that it had been the first thing that came to her head when she saw it. Then Fluffy Hair commented that the street address was probably 666. He then went on to recount people he’d known with 666 in their birthdates. The bus driver talked with Prison Lady a bit.

He was a nice driver. When pulling out at one point, he said loudly, “Man, everyone’s trying to get hit by me today!” He sounded genuinely sad about it. When I got off, he reminded me to be careful. How sweet!

Fluffy Hair and Prison Lady got off together and were still together last I saw them, so they might not have been disinterested strangers. Still, I love it when people on the bus get into group conversations.

On the way home, I heard a noise that sounded a bit like a small alien talking. Turned out to be a small, elderly Polynesian (maybe? I’m terrible at guessing nationalities.) lady boarding the bus. She was dressed in an all-black uniform (7-11 maybe), and she had on white socks with green around the rims and with red hot air balloons on them. She pulled out a tupperware container of fruit and contentedly munched on strawberries and cantaloupes for much of the ride.

The lady in front of me had white, plastic ear gauges in. She kept picking at the bottom of the loop of skin. It grossed me out and made me twitch. Eww.

On August 11th, a woman boarded the bus with her baby in a car seat. I saw her take a few pictures of the baby with her phone during the ride. When they went to get off the bus, I got a look at the baby.

It was ugly.

Really, really ugly.

Update of Shame

As much as I love riding buses, I prefer not to ride them just for kicks.

Since I no longer work in the city, my bus rides will be far less frequent from here on out.

Thus, this blog will also be far less frequent from here on out. As much as I love writing it, I don’t really want to take time out of every weekday to just ride the bus and stare at people, then get off and board a bus straight home. That would be weird….er.

I will, however, do my very best to write an entry every time I ride a bus (weekday or weekend – That’s right! I might blog-snipe you on weekends now! WHOA.), because buses will never cease to be weird, and I will never cease to enjoy writing.

That’s all! Thanks for reading, and happy Monday!

The (Seemingly) Never-ending Journey

Blogging without internet is hard work.

This morning, I sit at a table outside of Starbucks, the bag from my cinnamon chip scone, the cup from my mint tea, and a few un-opened sugar packets keeping me company. I’m very sleepy. My failure to blog yesterday makes me sad. A car just drove by with “Can’t Touch This” playing through the open window. I think to myself, “Wow. This stream of consciousness blogging will get very old very quickly. I should probably get to the point.”

Yesterday, I left Baltimore to visit my [Wow. That fly has a really cool pattern on its back. Also, its eyes are RED. WHOA!...] dear friend Hannah. I’ve made this trip before, and I’ve blogged about it before. Basically, the trip involves taking a bus, a Circulator (Baltimore’s free bus), a Marc commuter train, and the D.C. Metro. I shall describe the trip in segments.

SEGMENT ONE: THE BUS

[Wow. A girl just walked into Starbucks wearing a neon orange shirt with the YOLO logo on it. You Only Live Once. What a stupid expression. You Only Die Once too, but I don't see anyone rushing to make tee-shirts with that saying plastered onto them.] The busride was pretty uneventful. A black lady in a pretty blue top and a gold necklace with lots of over-lapping chains was riding with her kids. When they got off the bus, a little boy in blue shorts and a red and blue basketball-jersey-ish shirt stayed in his seat. I had totally been expecting him to get off [Inside the shop, on the other side of the window, Mike -whose name is on his cup - and his friend just got pretty animated about whatever they were talking about, based on the hand gestures. Mike has on a bright-green-and-bright-blue striped polo. Honestly, it's pretty tacky. Ahh well. I can't see faces, but they look pretty old. Old people are allowed to wear tacky clothing.] with her, but he was apparently on his own. An older guy wearing a straw fedora similar to my tourist hat (I like to make myself easily identifiable when traveling in other cities) was also wearing a mustard-colored shirt. It reminded me of Dwight from The Office. A woman in faded cut-offs boarded the bus. She had a huge nose. Like, seriously. It looked like either Jimmy Durante was her father or she had just left the glasses and mustache off of a Groucho Marx mask. Wait, you don’t know who Jimmy Durante is? Get off this blog. Right now.

[I'm totally kidding. I only know who he is because.... Actually I don't even remember how I know who he is. Cultural osmosis? Anyway.]

SEGMENT TWO: THE CIRCULATOR

[AHH. A girl just walked by wearing leggings as pants. People, I'm sorry, but LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. They are LEGGINGS. They go UNDER OTHER ITEMS OF CLOTHING. I don't care how tiny your butt is or how much you want to show off your big butt or whatever. Stop. Wearing. Leggings. As. Pants. This is my blog, and I want to take this opportunity to be real with you. They don't make you look good. They make you look stupid. :) <--- That smiley is to make sure that you're not mad at me for being all real with you just there. Smilies make everything better.] Pretty much all that happened on the Circulator was that I tried to eat my McDonalds lunch in as dainty a manner as possible. I always try to eat daintily on buses, as I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to eat on buses, but I think that maybe, if I eat daintily and timidly and neatly enough, the bus driver won’t yell at me or throw me into a ditch. [Oooh! I just saw Mike's face! He's got a beard!] It’s worked so far, though I got all gross and ketchup-y while eating McDonalds on the Circulator. [Arg. Man behind me, why are you smoking? Seriously? You couldn't walk away from my little table where I'm trying to breath the fresh, outside air? I would suggest moving. I'm tired, and friend, there is no telling what I might do when I'm sufficiently tired.]

SEGMENT THREE: MARC TRAIN

[Gag. Breathing is hard with smoke in your face. I'm not moving though. Oh no. You would like that, wouldn't you? Nope. I'm just gonna sit here and wheeze good and loudly so you have to listen to it. I'll cough too, if I feel like it. So take that.] On the Marc, I found a discarded sports section from a newspaper. The Olympics is the only time when I read sports sections in newspapers (though the World Cup will probably prove to be a new exception in 2014). [Cough. Wheeze.] I read something about how that Lochte fellow is a disappointment after Michael Phelps. I never liked Phelps that much anyway; he seems pompous. Poor Lochte. I also read something about Missy Somebody and sm-other-stuff.

In any case, I was sitting across from two ladies who were apparently nurses, as they discussed nurse things. The one had long blonde hair and was in a short, black dress. The other had on jeans, and I couldn’t see her face because of how we were positioned. Dress Nurse (that sounds inappropriate…) talked about some patient she’d hated and how he’d had blood sugar at 23 which is apparently horrible and then they talked about dinner and whether they should get chili or not. I looked out the window some. It was a beautiful day, with a blue sky and pretty trees. I kept trying not to make window-reflection-eye-contact with the guy whose seat was facing mine one row up. It was difficult. After a bit, I closed my eyes. When I opened them again after a brief sort-of nap, the sky was overcast and threatening rain! Holy Weather, Batman! It was pretty cool, like I’d awakened on a different day or something equally sci-fi. I hadn’t, but…. It was still cool. When we pulled into the station, I only saw one soggy role of toilet paper on the tracks, but there were a ton of water bottles. All of them were the same size, and they were all partially filled with liquid. I seriously think the train employees chuck stuff off just for kicks, or to confuse tourists, or to confuse tourists for kicks. It’s like a game to them. What they don’t know is that I’m onto them. This tourist refuses to be confused.

SEGMENT FOUR: METRO

The Metro ride involved some underground riding and some aboveground riding. During the underground riding, I saw a man who, for some reason, registered in my head as “That British Guy.” He just…. looked British. He had a wide, very expressive face with big eyes and a broad jaw (Does that make any sense? Like, at all? I dunno… He looked kind of like Stephen Fry, except a bit wider and without the jowls.). He had on a brown and tan, checked button-down shirt, tan pants, and sensible brown shoes. He was not wearing a sweater vest, but he should have been. When he stood up to leave the car, I saw that he had a rather large pot-belly. For some reason, while walking, I thought he looked more French than British. I think I was tired yesterday as well…

[Poor Mike is by himself now. His friends have left, and he is reading a newspaper. Also, the guy behind me is still smoking. Holy. Crap. I want to punch him. Cough.] During the aboveground portion of the Metro ride, I went past an airport. It was at this point, watching a plane fly off into the blue sky mixed with pearly white clouds, that I was struck by just how ridiculously, ludicrously, extravagantly large the sky is! It is so big! Something about seeing it through the windows of a Metro car made it seem bigger. [Aww, Mike left. AHH. I JUST HEARD A LIGHTER. HOW MANY OF THOSE ARE YOU GOING TO SMOKE, SIR, AND DO YOU NEED AN ASHTRAY FOR THAT? I WILL GLADLY PROVIDE ONE. YOU CAN FIND IT BY REACHING DOWN YOUR THROAT TO EXTRACT IT AFTER I HAVE JAMMED IT THERE. IT WILL PROBABLY BE STUCK. YOU MIGHT HAVE TO WIGGLE IT AROUND A BIT TO GET IT OUT AGAIN.] Maybe it’s because I’m used to seeing the darkness of the tunnels through Metro windows, or maybe it’s because the sky is just really big whenever I take a really good look at it. Who knows.

In any case, I got off at Huntington, which is the end of the Yellow line. It’s a really pretty station, but I have a bad track record with it. The first time I went there, I went to the wrong kiss-and-ride and had to pay an extra $2 just to go back through the station to meet Hannah on the other side. [Mike just walked past me! He's taller when walking than when sitting. Go figure. Also, a new old man has taken his place. His cup is not facing me, but his ball cap and sunglasses are on the table in front of him,  and he's wearing a grey polo. A blonde girl in pink just sat across from him. His granddaughter, maybe? She looked at me all suspicious-like through the window. I wonder why? Oh wow. There goes Mike in his van. It is a very interesting shade of teal and looks at least thirty years old. Bye Mike!] This time, I had to wait for about half an hour on a bench outside. The wait made me grouchy, but then Hannah came and we went to Noodles & Company and that made everything better. THE END.

PS – I probably won’t blog tomorrow. I’m ashamed.

[SMOKING MAN JUST LEFT! THE AIR HAS NEVER SMELLED CLEANER.]

Disconcerted Blogging

Blogging is getting difficult.

Last Friday was the last day of my summer job. I am therefore not entirely certain how to keep this blog going, as the only job-type thing I have lined up is a work-from-home internship. Also, I didn’t do a post on Friday and I’m leaving for DC tomorrow. While in DC, I’ll be staying with my best friend, who currently has no internet. If this blog were a story, this would be the “conflict” part of the plot.

For now, let’s just assume that I’m the protagonist and that this story has a happy ending.

I’ll tell you about what happened during my various forays into public transportation over the weekend. It’s all a bit jumbled, as I was very busy being social this weekend (imagine!), but there were several highlights.

On Friday, I took the bus three different times. The third time was my trip back to the city to have dinner with my coworkers. I boarded the bus around 7:20. As you may recall, this past Friday, the Olympic opening ceremonies aired at 7:30. This particular bus ride therefore involved a lot of me logging onto BBC news on my phone and trying desperately to catch glimpses of TV screens in the bars and restaurants we drove past once we entered the city. I probably looked a tad crazy.

Of course, the biggest highlight of the weekend’s travels was Otakon. Oh, Otakon, that wondrous convention where people go to talk about anime, manga, and lots of other things with which I am not familiar.  At Otakon, people also dress up as all kinds of strange characters, a lot of whom have absolutely nothing to do with anime or manga. Let me give you a brief summation of the most noteworthy characters I saw walking around during Otakon. Some I saw from the bus. Others I did not.

I saw four Doctor Whos, two #11s and two #10s. Only one of the four was a girl (one of the 10s).

I saw two female Lokis.

I saw one female Ironman, as well as an awkward amount of said female Ironman’s butt cheeks. I suppose the costume name was something like “Sexy Ironlady.” It made dinner at Uno’s a tad uncomfortable.

I saw two Links. I honestly expected to see a lot more than that.

I saw one super sweet pair of mutton chops.

I found Waldo. Twice.

On one of Saturday’s bus rides, a little boy in a Mario tee-shirt had an adorable baby turtle in a plastic cage. It kept trying to climb the walls to freedom. It was actually kind of sad, despite being absolutely the cutest thing ever. Ever.

At the bus stop on Sunday, I saw a lady in a yellow tank top, black tights, and yellow flip-flops reading a book called The Sex Chronicles. I suppose there’s something to be said for truth in advertising.

Also at that bus stop, a black man with a towel over his shoulder said, “This is the longest I’ve ever waited for a bus.” The bus was about twenty minutes late. “HAH!” I scoffed internally. “Friend, you haven’t SEEN a late bus!” My smug sense of superiority lasted a good deal longer than it should have.

It quickly evaporated, however, when I forgot how much a day pass costs and had to be reminded by the bus driver. This is the first week since my arrival here that I haven’t purchased a week pass. It felt weird and touristy.

On the light-rail, I sat near two cosplayers, one in a bright blue wig, the other in a long, grey wig and a black trench coat. A light-rail employee entered our car and asked the people sitting in the front row to move to different seats, as a handicapped person was ready to board. One of the guys got up and moved down the aisle. As he walked, he said the s-word repeatedly, good and loud – not angrily, just steadily, like a drum beat. It was annoying. I wanted to hit him a little. He later got into a conversation with the two cosplayers. They asked if he had ever cosplayed. He replied that he had only ever cosplayed as himself. Haha.

In the very front of the car sat a man whose right ear looked like it had melted down his face to rest atop his jaw bone. He turned his head, and the left ear looked fine, so I guess he had an accident?

As I stood on the platform watching the light-rail drive away, I caught glimpses of various horns and brightly-colored wigs whipping by in the windows. That was my last look at anything related to Otakon.

Until next year? *dun dun DUN*

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