December 2, 2003

Bus Ride Riot

When I took my long awaited seat on the Chinatown bus to New York I announced to my fellow passengers that this was it. I told them I couldn’t take it anymore; I just couldn’t bring myself to get on that bus one more time. I knew I meant it because I’m someone who rarely chats with my seatmates, much less makes grand definitive proclamations. I knew that the Sunday night after Thanksgiving bus was going to be trouble, I had been dreading it all weekend. My mistake was that I left the house at 2:40. I knew I’d be arriving at the bus around 3:40, making me too late for the 4:00 o’clock. I knew it and I went ahead and did it anyway.

When I joined the line it was endlessly long, snaking down the block and bulging out in places. Luckily it wasn’t too cold outside. Two busloads of 4:00 o’clock riders loaded on and set off and still the line was miles long. Then I did something I’ve never done before; I went up to the front and scrunched in with all the cutters. Then we all waited there for an hour and ten minutes. You’d think it was the great depression or something.

In actuality I didn’t mind the waiting part so much. I started reading Harriett the Spy. At 4:50 the bus arrived and I was so relieved, I was sure to get on it! That’s when the commotion started. There was a hold up, and all of us in the back of the smooshed up crowd couldn’t see what was happening. One person got on the bus and then there was some yelling. All I could hear was something about 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock.

It turned out three big guys were blocking the doors and not letting anyone on because they had tickets for the 5 o’clock bus and since it was almost 5, they thought they should get on ahead of everyone. What I don’t understand was why they weren’t getting on. Everyone stood there in the cold while they argued for fifteen minutes. I watched the bus monitor ladies through the windshield; they weren’t doing anything. In fact they looked a little bored. I resisted the urge to call the police; someone needed to make these guys move! There was some very angry yelling and probably lots of pushing. I kept wishing someone would grab all three of those guys and throw them right out of the way, but rumor had it they were big guys, probably stupid BU football players or something. I wanted to scream. Surprisingly the people around me remained in good spirits, making jokes and sharing candy. You'd never see that on line for the greyhound.

Finally the other bus arrived and someone gave in. I’m not sure if the guys got on the bus or not, but people started to board. The girl in front of me, however, was far too polite. She thought everyone in front of her had a four o’clock ticket, which they didn’t. I urged her to move forward, but she wouldn’t. She let the whole line get in front of us. When she finally got on the bus was nearly full. She was almost as bad as the door blockers! The bus monitor went in to count seats. Everyone groaned. Then she announced that there was one seat left. I jumped up among all the hungry eyes surrounding me; at the risk of being pummeled to death I gave her my ticket. There were still some 4’oclock riders left in that crowd. I got the very last seat at the very back of the bus, right next to my slow friend from the line. The rest of the ride was painful and long and bumpy. I didn't share one bite of my trailmix with the slow girl. Next time I’m hitchhiking.

Posted by at 12:45 PM | Comments (3)