I was at the bus stop this morning and something very surreal happened. I live in an area of town where there are lots of apartment blocks from the late 1960s early 70s era, and a lot of single people or young couples with and without children live there and commute to work every morning on the various buses that pass on my street.

The funny thing is that a lot of people, both men and women, seem to get  up precariously late and cut it really close when it comes to catching their bus right across the street. I observe them at my bus stop every day: Some young women come out of their buildings completely un-made up, and spend the better part of 5-10 minutes at the bus stop putting their makeup on and fixing their hair. Like, do I have to watch you do something which you should’ve given yourself the time to do in the privacy of your own bathroom?

Getting back to this morning’s incident: I get to the bus stop and park my carcass on the bench in the bus shelter beside a fairly big burly guy with a shaved head. First off he spends at least a couple of minutes taking out his mobile device with headphones and untangling the wires so that he can plug himself into it and shut out the outside world and retreat into his electronic cyber-type world of his own creation, replete with his own personalized choices of podcasts, techno-pagan boom boom music, or better yet, occult or Satanic, or Goth-like Heavy Metal, before arriving at his cubicle and retreating into another self-contained environment.

Then the kicker. He stands up and proceeds to undo his belt, pants, zipper, and start to rearrange his various appendages and sundry articles of clothing so that they all fit in their proper place! Meanwhile, I’m studiously looking away pretending this is not happening.

Luckily for me, and everybody else for that matter, bus protocol is a few notches more civilized than bus stop protocol. In the bus, there’s a very structured written and unwritten, unspoken set of rules that have been laid down by the transit commission, and advertized on the buses, in the papers and other media, including the internet. Also, over time, bus riders have come to agree on an unspoken protocol as to how to behave and not behave on a bus.

For example, it’s quite clearly indicated on the inside walls of the bus to give up your seat in the first few rows of seats if an elder gets on or someone with mobility problems. Most people comply with this automatically, although some youngsters need to be reminded of it on occasion.

Also, everybody knows that you’re supposed to move back when new people get on, and the aisle starts to get crowded. Generally people comply, but again, sometimes the driver has to raise his or her voice to get people to obey.

One thing which does not generally need to be enforced is the respect of each other’s personal space when sitting in close proximity to one another. Generally nobody hogs any empty seats with their bags or personal effects, and will willingly vacate their personal belongings from an unoccupied seat without being asked to, if the other person makes it clear by their physical movements that they intend on occupying that seat.

Also, it’s considered impolite to stare into the eyes of the person sitting facing you, unless you know them and they want to strike up a conversation with you. Also, when the person in the window seat wants to get off, it is customary to simply get up, and not have to say anything to the person beside you in the aisle seat. That person is expected to make the necessary physical displacements to allow their neighbour to vacate their seat, without having to exhort them in any verbal or physical fashion.

If a person who is occupying a two person seat is conspicuously obese or otherwise ungainly in size, it is customary not to make any overt or explicit effort to make that person accommodate a second person in the seat. Usually the other people find the proposition of sitting beside an egregiously obese person to be at the outset, distasteful at best, and will prefer to stand rather than be compelled to be sitting uncomfortably beside the obese person.

If a person is for some reason unable to come up with the requisite cash fare for the ride, either because they’re short, or didn’t anticipate their electronic debit-smart card becoming ‘stupid’ and malfunctioning on the scanner, then it is customary for the driver to either cut them some slack and let them on, or if they’re convinced the person might be a malingerer, or is somehow trying to take the system ‘for a ride’, so to speak, the driver might ask the passenger to get off the bus, or persuade him/her to ask for a donation from a fellow passenger to make up the difference, which I’ve seen happen on more than one occasion.

So all in all, folks are quite civilized. There just seem to be some strange creatures on my street who seem to have persistent ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ whilst waiting for the bus. Well, at least once they get on; they’re fully clothed and made-up. It would be rather shocking if some of those specimens showed up for work half-naked in their birthday suit.

Well, pretty soon, that won’t even be an option. It’ll be bloody cold out, and all thoughts of wardrobe adjustments at the bus stop will be relegated to the dust bin of history. Well, at least until next spring, when all the Nordic bears and other critters come back out of hibernation for another shot at fun in the sun.

Have a good one folks!!! Never a dull moment on public transport!!!

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