Bus Riders- Metro Manners

Riding the bus can be an interesting human experiment. A wide range of characters are obliged to inhabit and coexist in a confined space for a period of time, often with various degrees of harmony. But there is also an interesting dynamic that starts from the moment you enter this vessel of suspended discord.

As a passenger you are aware of your own space, but you also become aware of an organic, collective consciousness that embodies every rider onboard. For example, most passengers sit, presumably minding their own business, absorbed in their own worlds, yet, as soon as the one Crazy Person starts yelling, there is an instant group awareness and a tension that clicks on, heartbeats pound and sphincters contract. This is usually followed by a collective sigh of relief when the Crazy Person finally exits the bus, or the otherwise prolonged agony of being a prisoner on the bus ride to Hell. Also in the mix are the riders who seem oblivious to anything around them and those who seem to exist in a parallel universe altogether. It’s almost fun to sit and imagine the personalities that lurk within your fellow passengers.

I’m the type that likes to jump on, pay quickly, and stumble as fast as possible to an empty seat. (I’ve got my “Bus Legs”, meaning I can stand and walk while the bus is in motion- it’s kind of like surfing)  and I’ll usually read, look out the window, or if I’m feeling safe, I’ll bust out the iPod. I’ll move towards the exit when my stop is coming up and I’ll hold the door open for anyone behind me. Once on solid ground I get out my handy bottle of Purell, (never leave home without it!) and slather my hands with it like the paranoid germaphobe maniac that I am. That’s how I roll. Over time, in my bus riding experiences, I’ve noticed that there are many other types of bus riders and I’ve created a short list of types I’ve encountered,…

 Which best describes YOU?

  • When your bus arrives, you try to jump onboard before letting any passengers exit?
  • Counts out 125 pennies into the fare box?
  • Sits in the senior citizen/disabled seats and refuses to move?
  • Puts their belonging on the empty seat next to them to keep anyone else away?
  • Boards carrying impossibly large packages and squeezes into a tiny space between other passengers?
  • Sits completely defensive & tense and perceives everyone to be potential murderers, theives and rapists?
  • Sits way in the back with the taggers, weirdos and sociopaths?
  • Tries to board the bus by the rear door?
  • While riding Metro Station escalators, do you stand smack in the middle so that anyone else behind you who might be in a hurry cannot get by?
  • Holds loud, annoying conversations on their cell phone?
  • Throw the F Bomb loudly across the bus to your buddies?
  • Sprawl your legs across the aisles or onto other seats?
  • Have you ever been thrown off a bus?
  • Have your headphones on while singing aloud?
  • Have NO headphones on while singing aloud?
  • Think people conversing in foreign languages are talking about you?

Yes, bus riding in L.A. can have some rough edges at times, but once you adapt to it and make it work for your needs, you can’t beat it. I know that the thought of actually being in close contact with real people, especially the dodgy ones, fills many reluctant bus riders with dread and keeps them in their cars, but hey, this city is filled with many strange and beautiful people and I for one, am willing to share my bus riding space with anyone willing to share it with me. It’s the real world and I want to live in it just like it is. I can’t imagine being a resident here in Los Angeles and living in a bubble.

Although, I must say that I’m very glad I don’t happen to ride the bus in the African Congo where I’d have to worry about losing more than my IPod as you can see from this excerpt of a true account published recently in Harper’s Magazine.


Penis Thieves of the Congo

“Wasiu, Bad Teeth told me, had gotten on the bus and sat down next to this woman. He didn’t have a watch, so he asked her what time it was. She didn’t know. Then the conductor came around and asked her for her fare. She didn’t have that either. As she stood up to get out of the bus, she bumped into Wasiu.

 “Then,” he said, “Wasiu Karimu felt something happen in his body. Something not right. And he checked and his thing was gone.”

“Was it gone,” I asked, “or was it shrinking?”

 “Shrinking! Shrinking! It was getting smaller.”

And as he felt his penis shrink, Wasiu Karimu screamed and demanded the woman put his penis back. The conductor told them both to get off the bus, and a crowd closed in on the accused, not doubting for an instant that the woman could do such a thing. But as soon as she saw trouble coming, Bad Teeth said, she replaced Wasiu’s manhood, so when the police took him down to the station, they thought he was lying and arrested him instead.




This entry was posted in Analysis, Greater Los Angeles, Pendejadas, Personal, Uncategorized by AlDesmadre. Bookmark the permalink.

About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: alguerrero@earthlink.net Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697 www.alguerrero.com Myspace.com/thepuppetsfromhell

16 thoughts on “Bus Riders- Metro Manners

  1. Sits way in the back with the taggers, weirdos and sociopaths?
    …..that is what I used to do go straight to the back and tag the buses.

    Have you ever been thrown off a bus?
    Yes because one of my friends was seen scribing on the windows, we actually ran out the back.

    This was way back in the day though lol

  2. I always sit in the back, which is probably why I’m a weirdo psycopath. My biggest pet peaves about the bus is that people don’t think when there on the bus. They have a habit of crowding the front of the bus when there’s space for more people in the back. I’ve been left behind many a time because people are scared of the back of the bus. Sure all the smelly crazy looking people and gangsters sit in the back, but if you leave them alone and don’t make eye contact youll be ok. I’ve also noticed that depending on what part of town your in there is an invisible barrior around black people. I take advantage of it because it means there’s always an empty seat next to them. Its interesting to see the danamics and behavior of people on the bus, specially when someone has an unpleasant smell to them. Then there are those who sneeze and don’t cover them selves !!!! Riding the public limo is an experience unto itself. Great post

  3. the reason I do my best to stay up front is because most of the time I have my bike up there on the front rack, and on the really busy buses, if you keep moving back, you can end up crammed way back there with a bunch of people in the aisle and the danger of scrambling out the back door and up to the front and the bus leaving before you can get there to get your bike.

    one of the reasons I like riding the bus the most is those moments when I see people being nice to each other. my friend was telling me about a really bad experience she had with an asshole driver, and while I see that kind of stuff too, more often than not, I see drivers being cool, waiting for people and stuff like that, and other passengers being cool with each other. that makes me happy. but also, I am male; I know that as with any use of public space, the experience is way different for women, who get hit on, stared at, harassed, groped. I guess when I see those cool moments of people just being genuinely nice to each other and trying to be cool when thrown together in a public situation like the bus, it reminds me not to get desensitized by all the other ugly, mean shit, and to keep trying to make things better even if people can be fucked up.

  4. kualyque makes some great bus riding great points that we can all heed to make our
    bus rides a little better. I say, look at riding the bus as an opportunity to go out and be cool to other people. We have enough negativity on the roads, it’s truly awesome when you actually see niceness go a long way on the bus. That one second of kindness can make you feel good all day. And speaking of women getting harrassed on buses, I hope it never gets as bad here as it has in Mexico City where women now have to ride separate buses just for them because they were getting molested and hit on so much!

  5. I sit in the back as far back as I can, because unless you have a good reason it is rude to crowd the front. It makes it very hard for people to get on and it makes it hard to see the next stop.

    I think they should really enforce the reserving the front seats for the elderly and handicapped. When I see an elderly person standing and some perfectly abled person sitting in the front I seriously want to smack someone. Some people put here have no respect.

  6. Hey thanks for the escalator warning. I’ll have to print that up into some stickers and slap it on all the escalators I can find. Not that anyone will read them or care, but it’ll make me feel better…

  7. I prefer the last seat at the back of the bus, the one by the engine facing the street. That way no fool’s are gonna sneak up on me! 😉 I used to laugh at all the drowsy head-bobbing tired workers, and their constant dips into slumber and semi-awakeness, they always looked like baby parrots, if you know what that looks like. It was funny until I became one of them, now I’m somebody else’s sight to laugh at. Asi es la vida.

  8. I’m the one with the headphones on but the music off. That way, I can “observe” the other bus people around me without being too obvious. It’s always interesting, like the time a pair of high school kids got really affectionate on the bus, oblivious to the glares from the middle-aged guy across them. Ahh, young love. Sometimes, it’s sad. The other day, I think I saw a marriage break up.

    And I second kualyque’s words about people being nice to one another. Sometimes, just witnessing someone being kind to a stranger is enough to give me hope about the world.

  9. I ride the Big Blue Bus to school/work. I usually find an empty seat somewhere in the front half of the bus; I rarely have to stand the whole way because I get on in low traffic areas or where the bus route starts. I’m no good at standing on the bus, I’m way too clumsy. Also, since I’m kinda short holding on to the rails above is uncomfortable.

    I’m the bus pass carrying kinda person. I like getting on quick, getting out of the way. I hate hearing other people yammer on their cell phones. I rarely use my phone on the bus, it’s too loud (the buses announce every stop). I usually exit in the back. I wear my iPod and or read most of the time.

    Oh, and on the gender tip, I usually make sure to button my sweater at the top if I’m wearing a blouse that might show a little skin. I don’t want someone staring down :/

  10. I rarely sit at the back of the bus. I let that be for people who are on the bus for the long haul. Since most of my bus trips are short distances, I tend to stand near the back exit (but never blocking it). I like the option of making quick exits.

    When I’m on the bus for a long distance or there is an open seat, I sit in the furthest back forward-facing seat, which is usually next to the rear exit. I don’t like bothering people and don’t people bothering me, so I tend to have an iPod or book with me.

    It’s always interesting to see who sits next to me on the bus. Often, it’s another young person whose friend is across the aisle or standing or an older male.

  11. Now that I’m older, I often get seniors sitting next to me. I guess I don’t look too threatening. They sometimes will start conversations with me and sen~oras will often talk to me too.

    However, when I was a teenager, my friends and I were the scourge of the buses. We got kicked off for talking too loud in a made up language, for bus surfing (standing in the middle of the aisle and not holding on to the bars and keeping balance), drinking etc. I loved the bus though. It was my ticket to freedom. I used to get around all of the city with frequent trips from Echo Park to gigs in Long Beach and Orange County.

    I did have a creepy experience once when a guy started pleasuring himself in the seat next to me and I was sitting next to the window! I was like “um, excuse me, my stop” as I had to squeeze by him pretending I didn’t notice what he was doing. Bad memory.

  12. Oh, if you’re interested in international bus experiences watch a short film from Spain called “Plaza del Almendros.” It’s about a bus driver and his adventures through the Gitano part of town. It can be found on the second disc extras for the film “Vengo.” Available at many public libraries.

  13. I like to sit in the middle of the bus so I’m not too far from the back exit. I’ll sit in the front sometimes too, but never stand in the front unless the bus is jam packed. I’ll often kinda of guard the seat next to me so creepy guys don’t sit next to me and then when a woman approaches I scoot over and do this unspoken “sit here” thing with my eyes. When I’m looking for a seat, I see other ladies doing this too. It’s our way of making the bus safer for ourselves. The bus is better than the train though in regards to women being harrassed and/or assaulted, at least in what I’ve observed and experienced.

    I think if more people who have never rode the bus had to ride it, they would have a much better understanding of our city and its people. A decent bus ride always reminds me to lighten up on people and that really most of us are just trying to do the best we can to get through our days, feed our families, get a little happiness in our lives. When you are all alone in your car, it’s easy to feel so detached from other people that they begin to feel like your enemy, simply becuase they are strangers.

    One of my favorite bus rides ever was on the 81 and this lady had her 7 or 8 year old girl reading aloud from a stack of library books. The mom had just gotten off work and was still in her janitorial uniform, and she was talking about how much her daughter loved reading and how she was so proud of her but that she felt bad because she couldn’t help with her words because she couldn’t read much herself. This was in the front seats that face each other and when the little girl had trouble with a word, the book got passed around among the group of us all sitting there till someone could say what it was. They say it takes a village…or two rows of strangers on the bus.

  14. Thanks Pitbull Girl 🙂 for some truly delightful and inspirational comments. Were on the same page with regards to bus riding in L.A. The eye opening thing I’m learning from these responses is the disturbing extent of the b.s. women have to put up with
    from male jerks just to ride the bus. It never occurs to me to think of doing stuff like that, so I normally will never look for it happening on the bus, but I’ve done a little survey now of most women I know and they all have a story or two to tell about being messed with. That’s sad! These jerks should be thrown off the bus while it’s still rolling. Our sisters, wives, moms, daughters, etc. should not have to tolerate that stuff. Sorry to rant, but it pisses me off!

  15. Oh, would you really want to do a graphic novel on that experience? Now I can laugh about it but at the time I was really scared. I think I was 17, traveling by myself and on my way to downtown. The guy didn’t look like the kinda guy you would expect it from. He was a decent looking paisa guy, young. I think that’s what shocked me the most. I mean, you expect certain things from creepy looking guys but not normal looking ones.

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