I haven’t owned a car since the winter of 2002. Quiet frankly, I got tired of getting parking tickets on Miami Beach and school was walking distance so I traded in my car keys for a pair of good shoes, a bus pass and a bike.
In every city I’ve either lived in or traveled to since that carless winter of 2002, I’ve opted to take public transportation, not because studying for the written part of the drivers examine makes me cringe or my undiagnosed parkingticketphobia, but because people are actually nice to each other on public transportation.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen grimy moments on the bus and train but the beauty I’ve witnessed turns the volume down on some of those loud cell phone conversations I have no desire to listen to.
While I’m no dating or relationship expert (another blog for another time) I know there’s a lot of good-hearted men out there because I see them rush to the aide of women struggling with heavy strollers and babies in tow.
I’ve seen my fair share of mean people but you can’t tell me that there’s no compassion in the world when total strangers pay each other’s bus fare or slide a transfer to someone who really needs it.
I’m reminded of how down we are for each other when passengers on a bus raise their collective voices like a choir commanding the bus driver to stop for a person who’s running with every ounce of their energy to catch the bus.
However, my favorite and by far the most comically sweet thing to watch is the faceoff between some young person and a tired person who’s sitting in the area reserved for elderly and/or handicap people, when that elderly and/or handicap person boards the bus.
You can feel the tension between the young person and the tired person as they watch the elderly and/or handicap person board. They look around the bus to see if anyone’s paying attention to them staying planted in their respective seats. Then they look at each other, holding a silent debate where the factors of age, tiredness and gender take place via direct eye contact. Then they look at the elderly and/or handicap person boarding, again as if they’re trying to assess just how elderly or handicap the person is. Then they look at the bus driver who’s looking at the both of them through that big circular mirror right above the driver’s head. Then they look around the bus, again to see if someone is going to say something to either of them about getting up.
People on the bus in-turn look at both of them like, “one of you better get up or…” Then the young person and the tired person look at each other to see who’s prepared to get up. Then something happens, the look on the young person and the tired person’s face changes instantly. It’s like they both realize at that very moment that 1. Someone, including the bus driver, just may call them out for not getting up 2. Some good karma points may be earned if the elderly and/or handicap person picks their seat. Then it becomes a niceness faceoff. The young person and the tired person standup just in time for the elderly and/or handicap person to pick the seat of their choosing. Right as the elderly and/or handicap person sits the winner of the “I followed the rules on the sign above my seat” faceoff receives their non-verbal reward of head nods and smiles for their act of couth.
However, there’s always that one person with the not-so-random audible aside that was more than prepared to tell either person about their lack of home trainin’ if they didn’t get their ass up out that seat.
While many public transportation systems have their downsides like limited bus routes and trains that seem to never come on-time, one thing can be said for the vast majority of the public transportation populous: They are beautiful people.