Hamilton, ON: Since taking the bus to and from work for the majority of the summer, I’ve noticed several underlying social conventions that maintain a stable and uneventful ride. Because people like me, for the most part, find comfort in routine simplicity.
For instance, like good passengers, we do our best to avoid any physical or verbal confrontation that, god forbid, might indicate some semblance of human interaction. So we don’t tell the poor man who smells like sauerkraut baked in beer that his close-quartered presence triggers the gag reflex (true story). And we most certainly don’t tell the global warming skeptic, who is preaching very loudly, that his evidence of recently soaring temperatures is anecdotal and poorly weighted against current scientific literature (true story). Because that’s what us good passengers do: we mind our own business.
Or at least we pretend to.
In reality, anything exceptional and beyond the pale of a monotonous trans-city bus commute is a welcome experience. That’s why I found the events following a holdup at John street incredibly entertaining.
When we reached the bus stop, the driver got out and performed a walk-around inspection of the wheels and engine. It was amusing that he gave us absolutely no explanation as to why the hell we were stopped or why he was inspecting the bus.
With a steady and sober face, I imagined the questions that must be buzzing through the people’s heads: eg. “What’s going on? Is this normal?” … “Why is our driver waiting outside? Is it because this bus might explode?!” … “Should I maybe stop starting my day by snorting a line because I sometimes tweak? OH SHIT FUCK WHY ARE WE STOPPED HERE?!?!?!” Okay, maybe these were things that I was thinking, except for the part about snorting lines – good bus passengers don’t snort lines, and I’m a good bus passenger. It was a joke.
The serene atmosphere quickly deteriorated into a spectacle of eye rolling, watch checking, and subtle mutterings of annoyance. Some, with a final indignant sigh or other such telltale expression of frustration, left the bus to catch one of the other lines that run down Main street. And so our numbers dwindled.
But I wasn’t in a rush because I’m usually early for work anyways, so I waited patiently. One of the few remaining passengers with a red and angry face stuck his head out the window and shouted at the bus driver, asking why we were stopped. The bus driver told him that there was “some” problem with the bus, but we would be leaving soon. An ambiguous explanation, yet it seemed to satisfy the angry man, so he sat back down beside what I then noticed to be a large black garbage bag full of stuff. By now, living in Hamilton for so long had rendered my curiosity obsolete to something so trivial as a large black garbage bag filled with an assortment of commodities, so I asked no questions.
Ten minutes later the police arrived. Unexpectedly, and determinately, they were upon us. A couple officers stood outside and talked into radios strapped to their shoulders. Another approached the front doors of the bus. (HELL YES, things were getting exciting.)
When a stocky police officer with a bad-ass mustache climbed onto the bus, the man with the big black garbage burst out of his seat and started to make his way to the back doors. But the mustached police officer walked straight up to him and said, “How’s it going?” Seems like an innocent question, if not the worst fucking prelude to an arrest in the history of crime catching.
The officer asked the guy with the garbage bag to turn around and patted him down. Throughout the entire procedure, garbage-bag guy pleaded the fundamental question of “Why?!” as his ass was cuffed and hauled off the bus. HAHA.
So if you haven’t figured it out yet, the bus driver was notified that a convict was on the bus and had staged a mechanical failure to stall the man with the garbage bag before the police arrived. “Mr. Thief, did you think you could have gotten away with your stolen bag of goodies on bus number 5? No way. IT’S A BUS OF JUSTICE.”
If we can determine a moral for the story, it’s probably that if you’re going to steal shit, don’t take public transit. Those bus drivers, in their fancy blue shirts, trousers, shiny black shoes and socks pulled up to their nipples, are warriors of the law. Oh and they are also stewards of a very efficient public transportation system – I still made it to work on time!