Thursday, May 29, 2008

Finally, a little Rage from the RageKaje

Seattle transit travelers, like our clean, Eco-friendly buses, are overall, quite polite and accommodating. But avoid, at all costs, ever riding the bus at rush hour times, say from 5 to 7pm on weekdays. No, its not that people suddenly get pushy and rude when the buses fill up and there are no seats left. Rather, I find that Seattlites have no idea whatsoever how to ride a crowded bus. As more and more people enter the front of the bus, those without seats stand still, blocking the aisles like confused cattle. Whole pastures of open space may exist toward the back of the bus, but no one even turns to look, much less let more intelligent travelers pass them by to reach said open space. Instead, an unbreakable bottle neck forms at the bus entrance, with people both trying to exit and get on the bus, but still, no one makes a move to spread out or get out of the way. It took me ten minutes just to make it back to the area by the rear door, as people crammed butt to elbow in the front aisle.

I've raged and mumbled endlessly at this phenomenon, whether its Tuesday morning rides where 14 people cram up front because one woman standing two rows in won't move 8 feet back to make room, or like tonight, when I moved out of the bus entry and into the aisle as soon as I could, and had to move back and forth eveytime someone exited because the guy in front of me wouldn't budge an inch. And these buses and not designed to hold much standing capacity as it is, so why do people insist on planting, when they could move to the back? ESPECIALLY, when bus drivers make a point to make sure everyone who needs to is able to get off at their stop. It's not like the NY subway where you have to position yourself close to the doors lest you get squeezed away from your exit at the crucial moment.

Fortunately, I'm the second to last stop on my route, so I always have a seat in the morning, and always end up with a seat by the end of my ride, since I usually begin and end the ride as the sole passenger. Leaving the bus tonight, I asked the bus driver, "So, is it me, or do Seattleites not know how to ride a crowded bus?"

He nodded his head with an emphatic sigh and said "Oh, Completely Not, not at all, not at all." He didn't offer up any theories, (my theory is simple lack of exposure to crowds in general- downtown has like One crowded block) but as I left, he made sure to say, like a true, polite Seattlite "But they are good at following directions!"

This tendency to "wait until their told" before making room for others is the reason that my morning bus reading is continually interrupted by "MOVE TO THE BACK! MOVE TO THE BACK!" I mean, aren't these the same people riding to work everyday? Like goldfish making circles in a bowl, every morning, they are re-introduced to the wide open space right behind them at the back of the bus. Maybe the transit department, instead of posting insipid and derivative poems by local thirty-somethings, could post some helpful guides to riding the bus, like "If you notice that there's seven more people about to get on the bus, turn around and see if you can make room for them." That might be all it would take. For now, I can only smolder quietly while I remember rush hour on the 5 to grand Central Station.
Ah, the sweet, frenzied, organized chaos of the subway!


Keepitmoving said...

Yeah, people in transit are kind dumb everywhere. It's no different in NY! This happens on buses in Brooklyn all the time. Sometimes I'll be standing free and clear on one side of the subway car while 20 people cram around the doors at the other end. It's just so silly, because three little steps would afford them a lot more space. And we NYers are supposedly used to it right?

Some people are just not as spatially gifted as we are Kj.

Kj said...

Oh Kim, so true. Life is hard when you're an efficiency expert!!

Today, i felt particularly proud of my ability to stand on one foot, on my toes, balancing my knee on the seat in front of me, holding on the bar above, making room for people to pass behind me to exit, while managing never to touch either the people sitting on the seat i was leaning on or those standing next to me.

I credit Tetris and Contact Improv with this ability. Thanks you Gameboy and Bennington College.

katrina said...

a blessing and a curse, indeed. my temper flares up basically every time i take the train or the bus....that's a lot of anger.

i take so much pride in my balance and leg strength...and feel ashamed when i secretly shake my head at folks who lose their balance with the jolt of the subway car or bus.

i think you're right about the tetris credit. i imagine rearranging people to make them fit just so all the time. ay!

- katrina

ps -wish you were on the train today. the mariachis were singing "cielito lindo".

Anonymous said...

I agree. Seattleites are the most unaware people I've ever seen on the planet, and I've been all over the world. It's got to be something in the water. I'm convinced! I heard that during the Seattle riots when the streets were empty, mobbed crowds stopped at the cross walk.. IDIOTS.

Ian K. said...

Agreed. Navigating the hazards and stupidity of Seattle's mass transit-goers is far more difficult and unnerving than the actual routes or schedules themselves.