Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Very supercilious (write of passage number twenty-five)

I have a number of issues with the Number Five bus.  It's the best bus for getting to the Resident Fan Boy's church, and goes up Elgin, which is my favourite street in Hades.  However, it has to be the least reliable route in the OC Transpo system, and that's saying something.  It also gets assigned the least ergonomic buses, usually the kind where the aisle at the rear narrows down so much that you have to move sideways to exit at the rear.

On this particular day, there are several people standing near the back, and our stop is approaching and being on the Number Five, we're late, so I decide to leave from the front of the bus, giving myself plenty of time.  There is a young man standing in the aisle, deep in conversation with someone who is sitting down.  I approach him,  wait a few beats for him to notice that I am standing behind him, and when he doesn't, I smile pleasantly and expectantly, saying, "Excuse me," in what I take to be a cheerful tone.

His reaction is very much like the fellows in the above photo, although he isn't wearing face powder or a white wig.  He straightens up, fixing me with an offended stare, and slowly, with great ceremony, switches his back pack, which is also quite effectively blocking my way, from one shoulder to the other before cooly waving me through.  I watch this performance in some bemusement, wondering what rule in this guy's private code I've just broken.  I suppose he could be operating on the assumption that I have interrupted his conversation, but I (ass that I am) have always thought that this doesn't really apply when one is blocking an aisle in the bus.

I  thank him warmly for moving aside.  I'm thinking, in that uncharitable way that I have, that this is far more likely to irritate him than if I give in to my initial impulse to throttle him.


Jenn Haselswerdt said...

I ride the bus to work (almost) every day, and it's usually peachy. I get surprised by people's attitudes and etiquette sometimes, though.

Yesterday, a woman seated next to the window needed to get off, and excused herself to the woman sitting next to her, with plenty of time to exit. The woman on the aisle breathed a huge sigh, and just shifted herself to the side, rather than getting up--this wouldn't have been so much of an issue, except that her bag was still in the window-woman's way. The poor thing had to push her way through, with aisle-woman grunting, annoyed, the whole time. She almost missed her stop.

Persephone said...

If you put "write of passage" into the search box for this blog, you'll run into a number of similar stories, Jenn. (Although I do have "writes of passage" about pleasant experiences too...) I think it all boils down to the fact that the best measure of us as people is how we treat people we think don't matter. Bus rides are ideal scenarios to test that theory out.

Winnie said...

I enjoyed this. I can relate. I work in NYC and the subway has many people like the man you wrote about and some a lot worse. I am sure books could be written on the subject. I think common courtesy is really lacking in general.