Monday, September 18, 2006


O, public transportation:
How do I hate thee?
Let me count the ways.
I hate thee for thy inaccessability,
and for thy excessive cost,
and for thy complete and utter disregard for schedules...

I've had some (adjective) experiences with public transportation lately.

I expected to be a seasoned bus-rider. After all, I've been riding buses for nearly two years now. We used buses for most of my mission. But the buses in Italy have different norms than the buses here. In Italy, people always enter the front doors, and exit in the back. Exiting from the front doors is strongly prohibited. Entering the back doors is, too. And so, when my bus pulls up, I am often over-eager to board the bus. I step up through the front doors, and the bus driver tells me "Wait! Not yet!" because there are people lined up to exit the bus from the same doors. It's poor organization, if you ask me. Sometimes, the bus driver doesn't warn me in time, and people run into me as they try to disembark. It's embarrassing.

Also, in Italy, they expect you to be able to balance. The bus only stops long enough for people to board, and then it keeps going! Here, you board, chat a little, the driver waits for you to find a seat, and then you're late for your transfer bus.

Another difference is: I am nearly convinced that UTA is owned and operated by a private mental institution.

In Italy, public transportation is very mature, and normal people use it as an alternative to high fuel costs and extreme traffic congestion. Here, it seems to be the internal transportation system of the mentally disabled, offered to the public at a cost-- sort of like how you can attend a library that technically isn't your library, but it costs a lot and is inconvenient to get to.

I offer evidence:

I saw a old man at the transfer center who was stark raving mad. He would begin talking to people, call them over, and then wouldn't let them leave. A man from the bus company told him that they'd had this conversation before; he wasn't allowed to be on the premises. Why-ever not, he wanted to know? Part of the reason was the bottle that he was clutching in his left hand. Would he please leave? No. But the police would be called. And that didn't matter. Bus Man went off to call the police and the guy kept talking to people. He started asking for money. He told people he wanted water. Could he have money to buy water? People would point to a drinking fountain that was 20 feet away. They would tell him that they didn't have money to give him, but he could use the drinking fountain. And he'd ask them to BRING the drinking fountain to him. Or water from it, anyway. When people said that they didn't have cups, the guy would go off about how all people in Utah are hypocrites! And he would start yelling about it. The police finally arrived as my bus was pulling away.

Interesting things happen ON the bus, too. One man waited until the bus was pulling away from the stop to yell frantically at the driver: "LET ME OFF THE BUS NOW!!!" "I WANT OFF!!"

Or, another guy watched a lady talking to the driver, raised his hand to mimic a gun, and used his finger-gun to shoot at her repeatedly.

Another time, a guy with a really loud voice explained to a woman that the way to raise an IQ (even one of, say, 50? the woman asked...) was to "give the brain credit" for everything that it knows. Because people know things subconsciously, and there are connections there. We just don't give our brains enough credit. [He talked about this for an hour.] I saw him on the bus again a few days ago, and this time he was telling jokes. I wish I remembered some, because they were quality jokes. People around him actually asked him to stop talking.

People are usually friendly, like him. I've found this to be especially true with my bus drivers. They're usually the same every day, and when I'm the only person on the bus, we sometimes chat. This was especially true before I got my ipod. I had a conversation with one of my bus drivers in Italian. And that was pleasant.

Other friendly gestures are less appreciated. On Friday, for example, a guy came up to me while I was waiting for my bus at the transit center. He introduced himself and then said, "I want to go see a movie tonight, but I don't want to go alone. I'll pay for you. Will you go with me?" I told him I was busy, even though I hadn't decided what I was doing that night. It was instinctual, really. There was no conversation to prepare me for his invitation, and I have a natural inclination to refuse date invitation from guys that I don't already know.

Well, I'd better go. It's almost time to catch another bus.

No comments: