We’ve all suffered at one point or another. From those who only had to tolerate it until their first car and never looked back, to those who maintain it’s easier and cheaper than driving; even they can’t deny the hardships that come with public transport.
Of course we all need to learn to keep to a schedule. It’s good for public transport to teach us not to be late for things. It’s a shame the public transport itself doesn’t keep to the same schedule. It keeps to a magic schedule, one that makes it early when you’re desperately running and flailing your arms only to watch it pass by, and the other to make you wait 20 minutes in the arctic conditions. You are at its mercy. It’s a good thing the accurate signs have been put up to tell people when buses are due now. Unless, of course seven minutes is the new one minute and two minutes is the new 15.
Before you’ve even gotten on your chosen public vehicle you’ve been bet by the elements and you’ve been forced to practice your fitness. Now, to find a seat.
Wait, what? You’re going to work at 8am, an ungodly hour of the morning when you clearly need rest? Turns out, so is the rest of the world, so you may stand and cling to some static nearby object – not a person – and have an uncomfortably close encounter with at least seven other passengers for half an hour. Same goes for 5pm after a long day. You get on a train or a bus and become suddenly as intimately close with a stranger as your nearest and dearest. You rejoice for a mass exit, desperate for a seat even though it’s just for one more stop.
You might be lucky. It might not be packed like a sardine can, there are a few seats dotted around. But for regular public transport users, this is not just about finding any seat. This is about trying to work out based on no science whatsoever, some guess-work and maybe a bit of previous experience, who’s the best person to sit beside, i.e. who’s going to get off at one of the early stops and leave you all on your own.
You get on a train or a bus and become suddenly as intimately close with a stranger as your nearest and dearest.
On the other hand, you might travel at a quiet time when the bus is almost empty and you find your perfect seat. You enjoy your peace and quiet for one stop when a massive gang of people get on at the next stop. This will usually contain a group of youths, either boys or girls who are loud and who seem to sit far too close to you. The boys are usually louder, but the girls’ giggling can be the most irritating giggles that travel up the bus and bounce off the walls. And one, or both or a mix of these will sit at the back and blast music, and it’s never what you want to hear.
Finally, there’s the obnoxiously close passenger. That passenger that chooses a seat right behind you or right beside you when there’s absolutely no need. I feel the ‘one gap urinal’ rule for men should be exercised here. Too many times I have felt breathing or worse, coughing on my neck, thought about moving to a different seat before deciding that it’s too rude.
Sure, it’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly. But if it saves me from just one of these hardships (as a matter of fact it will save me from all of them) I’m going to start saving for a car immediately.