Thursday, 17 September 2009

Buzz Stop

This post is not about Verna Aardema's excellent picture book which won the Caldecott Prize.

This post is about the bloody buses again. As we coast to the end of our second week of mega-commutes, we're settling into a sort of routine. OC Transpo is still letting me down roughly every other day: late buses, early buses, non-existent buses. I'm finding alternative routes and ways to cope, but there is no way of predicting whether a bus will be crammed from one day to the next. Yesterday was a crowded bus day, a day in which I became keenly aware of different standards of hygiene. You know what I mean: the scent of "adolescent boy" (some of whom are well into their twenties), "dandruffy middle-aged lady", "garlic-lover", and my absolute favourite, "unwashed old man".

To accompany the olfactory assault, mosquito mood music. All of our routes are packed with students ranging from middle school through to grad school. Eighty percent of them are equipped with earphones of varying quality, so the rest of us are treated to the high-pitched scratchings of today's music: Nickle-gnat, Tickney Spears, Kanye Pest...

Here's Write of Passage Number Five, from a Victoria bus back in the days when Sony Walkmans were still pretty cool:

Somewhere in the back, a fella is playing his Walkman so loud that you can almost make out the lyrics, which is my personal gauge in personal-player-loudness. Another youngish man tells him to take the earphones off and let everyone hear instead of making us listen to the tinny crunch of the percussion. (These aren't his exact words because he is imitating the sound and I'm not sure how to put that in print. "Sksh-sksh" is the closest I can get.) The younger fellow switches off his player to hear, says something faintly obscene, and goes back to crunching away. Since, in the long, honoured tradition of bus etiquette, I don't turn around, it gets to sound pretty funny after a while:
(Tinny crunch)
Other fellow: Hey, why don't...
(Tinny crunch abruptly stops)
Young lout: Hunh?
Other fellow: Never mind.
(Tinny crunch resumes.)

This went on for some time.

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