Can I get off at the back door?

It’s Friday, finally.  And cold.  And rainy.  And?  I got nothing.  Except!

I take transit to and from work each day, and in my city by transit, I mean the bus.  Hamilton doesn’t have a variety of transit, like subways, trains, etc.  We used to have streetcars (before my time), an incline railway (waaay before my time) and trolley buses (which I loved) and there is some talk of a Light Rail Transit system in the future.  But for now, we have the bus.

Starting in highschool, I took the bus every day.  Through university, and college and all part-time jobs in between, I bussed it everywhere.  I actually didn’t have a driver’s licence until I was in my mid-20s, so confident was I that the bus could take me wherever I needed to go.  I didn’t own a car until I was married, and that was pretty much only because my job at that time was in a neighbouring town and virtually inaccessible by bus – the horror. 

Driving to and from work and wherever I wanted to go was certainly freeing, but at times, I missed the mindlessness of just sitting and not having to pay attention.  Occasionally I would take the bus downtown, just to do it, but mostly I became more and more a driver.  Once we had kids, bus rides were more of an adventure, rather than a mode of transportation.  Rainy day, kids going bananas stuck inside, get on the bus and go for a ride!  (dudes, did you see what I did there?  That rhymes, and I wasn’t even trying!  I think I am going to pitch that to the bus company for an ad campaign)  Anyway, some drivers would even let us ride for free, when they learned that we were just going to go on a big looping ride, bringing us back to our house 30 minutes later.

So last year, the hospital system where I work offered a discounted bus pass to employees, to try to get more people to take transit, thus helping to take a bit of pressure off the already overcrowded parking lots.  I jumped at the chance, of course.  Not only would I save on parking fees, but gas, wear and tear on the car and all that, but I would once again be able to commute without paying much attention to what was going on.  With the boys being a bit older, there was no running to daycare to pick one up and then tearing across the city to get the other one from school, so the timing was perfect.  Sadly the subsidized bus passes stopped this year, but since I had given up my parking space and transponder, I continue to take the bus and I really couldn’t be happier. 

I mostly listen to music while I ride the bus, which serves a twofold purpose: I get to be entertained, and it often keeps the crazy people from talking to me.  Not always, but often.  Sometimes I read, but I’m kind of hit and miss when it comes to being able to read in a moving vehicle, so that’s a rarer thing for me.  But what I mostly love doing while on the bus is observing.  And listening.  And eavesdropping.  Lately I’ve started to put in my earbuds, but keep my iPod off so while it appears that I am listening to music, I am actually listening to the conversations around me, and man people will talk about anything.  Sometimes they’re talking to the people they’re with, but more often it’s the ultra-loud-one-sided cell phone conversations that are cracking my shit up.  That and the fact that so many transit-related phrases can actually be “that’s what she said” moments, that it is not even funny.  Observe:

“Can you help me get off?” – usually an older woman with a bundle buggy or walker or something.  Or the closely related “Tell me when you want to get off”

“Can you make it kneel for me?” or “Let me lower it down for you” – the buses are equipped with a “kneeling floor” that allows the driver to bring the bus closer to the curb for passengers.

And, my personal favourite, “Back door!” – when someone has requested a stop and, while the driver does stop and passengers get on, he or she forgets to open the back door.  When a group of 6 or 8 people start yelling “Back door, back door!” it reduces me to hysterics.  Every.  Time.  I realize how this makes me look, but I can’t help it.  I am perpetually 14, I guess.

Happy Friday, blogfriends.  Or, as they say on the bus, “get off at the back door”.  *snort*

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