Tag Archives: bus

The daring public transit getaway: foiled by a clever bus driver.

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!

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Sometimes people feel the need to scream. I get it, I guess.

Hamilton, ON: A couple of weeks ago, it was one of those stupid hot days. Those ones that slap you in the face when you walk out of your air conditioned sanctuary and then wrap you in a thick body suit of sweat, smog, and any grime you’ve managed to pick up during the day. It didn’t help that I had eaten Indian food earlier, so whatever the hell was bleeding out of my face smelled like curry and samosas.

The supra-normal level of air conditioning on my bus, which normally grips me by the balls and chills me to the bone, merited afterthoughts of regret as a blast of hot, stinky air welcomed me off the B-line and into downtown Hamilton’s urban heat island.

My usual commute down Queen Street was largely uneventful as I brooded over the sweaty hell that was Hamilton that day. I was only one of a few sorry-sons-of-bitches traveling on foot for the lack of a car or an excuse to barricade indoors and cool off in scant amounts of clothing. However, there was someone down the next block walking in my direction and flailing his or her arms. Weird, yes? Kinda, even for Hamilton.

Curiosity peaked as the distance between us closed to about 20 meters. By this time I had diagnosed a male schizophrenic screaming at whatever fantasy was disturbing his frail grip on reality. Some might have been frightened by his intensity, but through personal experience I’ve realized that, despite stereotypes, Hamilton crazies are usually harmless and interesting people. Even if they’re not, they’ll most likely be too self-absorbed in their external reality to mind you any attention.

If you’re going to be afraid of someone in Hamilton, beware those riding motorized chairs (the ones for really fat people). They’ll run your ass down.

Anyways, by the time I was close enough to get a good look at the guy (I have awful vision) I realized, to my surprise, that his appearance did not set off the crazydar: this young dude was clean-cut, well-dressed, and, revealingly of mental integrity, using an Ipod. Through my experience, you never witness a crazy person working consumer electronics. I should clarify that when I use the term “crazy person” I refer to craaaazzzzy people – those ones who yell at birds and walk around town with determination, yet who do so without shoes or a destination.

So not only was this guy listening to a song on his Ipod, but he was screaming (with deep, guttural growls characteristic of death metal groups) what I assumed to be the lyrics while flailing his arms down one of Hamilton’s busiest roads at the busiest time of day. Who the hell does that? His “singing” was as obnoxious as it was incongruent.

But a thought train led me away from my original opinion until I envied him for being able to shamelessly express his emotions with an audio and visual recreation of whatever music he was listening to. He was out enjoying himself while I sulked about the heat on my trek home from work. Hell, if the guy’s able to have a good time in unfavorable weather conditions, then I have like 4 months to embrace my innate stupidity before the winter season.

If you catch me outside shuffling through snow while beating my chest and singing opera metal, please don’t judge me.