Gum in My Hair

An embarrassingly honest blog

Bus Demographics 101: What to Expect When Riding February 1, 2010

Filed under: Shut Your Mouth! — dulcedementia @ 5:17 pm

It seems like every time I ride the bus (which would be every day) there are certain types of people on each bus. And, no, racist minded person, I’m not talking about specific ethnicities. I’m talk about people who have certain habits or act a particular way while riding the bus. I’ve done some very unscientific studies (read: watched people) and these are some of the categories I have come up with.

The Refrier

Apparently this guy is on a severe budget and must save every butt stump that is not smoked down to the filter. Because it is tucked behind his ear, the odor of a half-smoked cigarette (or “refry” as we called it in my day) permeates the bus. Many times his thrifty habit of saving half a smoke is accompanied by a large gold chain/medallion. Maybe he was able to afford the jewelry because of all the money he saved on cigarettes.

Seat Position: Back section of the bus. Unless a disabled hobo, then it’s the front sideways seats.

The Motor Mouth

This person speaks a language you have never heard while talking on their phone. Loudly. Every trill and odd accent is audible. Because it is a language unfamiliar to most, people will start to try and listen for familiar words or tone of voice to figure out whether they are happy or sad. Some jackasses will assume it’s Arabic automatically and move away from the person on the phone.

Seat Position: First or section row of seat.

The Caravan

Seriously, pack mules don’t haul as much stuff as these bus patrons do. They waddle on to the bus with 17 grocery bags, an oversized umbrella and a bag of potting soil. I won’t lie. I’ve been this person before. There’s really no age or gender preference for this, but this person stumbles on to the bus and holds the bus up a few extra seconds as the rider gets situated. Sometimes they will even have a cart that requires the front seats to be folded up to make room for it. Their sitting down is always accompanied by a very large sigh or sometimes a “whew!”

Seat Position: Sideways bench or first available seat.

The Hen House

This is a group of women who all work or go to school at the same place. They typically will fill up at least four sets of benches and will talk about the work assignments and gossip about coworkers or fellow students. This is usually fine, unless you sit right in the middle of it. When you sit in the middle of it, you will find that you are being talked around and there will always be someone clucking in your ear. It makes for a rather loud bus ride.

Seat Position: Front four benches

The Haggler

These folks try to get on the bus by paying less than the regular fare or passing off an expired transfer ticket. Some will have the decency to pretend to look for their fare in all of their various pockets and purses, all the while knowing they don’t have the fare. This will usually allow them to ride the bus for a few stops without getting caught. Some people will come on the bus and try and tell the bus driver that they have money, but since the bus can’t make change, they can’t use their $20 bill. The bus driver will usually kindly point their finger in the direction of the gas stations a block away and tell them to buy something so they have correct change. When the haggler does not get their way, they cuss out the driver ferociously, as if it is the driver’s fault.

Seat Position: If they make it on the bus, usually the back seats.

The First Timer

It is pretty apparent this is the first time this person has ridden the bus and it shows. It shows in the way they are holding their backpack/purse. It shows in the way they neurotically watch the street. It shows in the way they don’t sit all the way back in their seat. You can tell they are trying to figure out all the way to avoid contact with the crazy hobo two seats away. I just want to tell them everything is going to be ok.

Seat Position: First row of seats or standing

The Family Outing

There’s usually a double stroller involved. Maybe a few older kids that had too much sugar earlier and should not be allowed in a moving vehicle unrestrained. Either way, many people are displaced and the folding up of seats and the wheelchair lift being deployed means that the bus gets put 2-3 minutes behind schedule. These are absolutely my least favorite group, especially in the evening, because the children are usually completely over stimulated and wailing the entire ride.

Seat Position: First through second rows

Occasionally you get a guy in a wheelchair talking about how he killed people growing up in Compton and how proficient he is with a 9mm. But for the most part, bus riders tend to be a nice, predictable lot. But maybe I missed a few groups. What are some of the characters you see on your bus?


2 Responses to “Bus Demographics 101: What to Expect When Riding”

  1. Nick A. Says:

    What about intrepid college student working on a paper due in 20 minutes, Bike Guy? iPod Guy? The Reader?

  2. Cassie Says:

    Oh god, I hate Bike Guy. Wait several minutes for me to put my $2,000 mtn bike on the front of the bus!

    I dislike the “People who are happy to be on the bus.” I don’t so much mind that they’re on the bus, but nobody should be as happy as they are that they’re on the bus. They’re the chipper white people with NPR tote bags who try to make conversations with people, preferably with someone of color or a different socioeconomic background than they, because they’re so goddamned happy to be on the great melting pot of the bus.

    And how accepting and tolerant and colorblind they are to the other people on the bus! See! Do you see how they smile deliberately at the guy with one leg, and how they were the only ones to not check their watches when it took several minutes for him to get on? Behold how kind that was.


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