The common city bus can be a site for weird occurrences and somewhat traumatizing experiences alike. As a lifelong public-transit user, I have my share of stories — as I’m sure many do. Buckle up while I reveal some of the bizarre experiences I’ve had on the bus.
Public transit is a necessity for many university students because parking is too expensive and many residence students don’t have their own cars. This does not mean every ride is as smooth as you’d like.
Ishita Zaman, a second-year arts and science student, recalls the long wait times and the length of the bus rides. She notes a specific experience in which her outing lasted a lot longer than she had anticipated.
“It was supposed to be a four-hour trip. It ended up taking, like, I think six hours,” Zaman said.
Alongside lengthy trips, there’s also the potential for many unpleasant experiences on the bus. From drunk people not realizing that they’re yelling to people smoking weed or vaping on the bus, I have had my share of uncomfortable moments.
In addition to strange events, there is also the awkwardness of being near strangers, which can provoke a visit from many people’s good old friend: social anxiety. You have to give up some of your personal space in order to use public transit.
This can be as simple as having to sit beside someone or as uncomfortable as people stepping on your feet, grazing your hand or hitting you in the face with a backpack. In fact, the worst of my bus experiences is so ingrained into my head that I remember every little detail.
It was a very cold morning as I waited for the bus. At 7:34 a.m., the wind was so strong that the snow was stabbing like needles on my exposed face. Thankfully, the warm bus arrived, and I took a seat on one of the blue plastic seats near the back.
I was sitting by my friend listening to a cover of “Where is My Mind” by FMLYBND when I realized that the bus had been stopped for far too long. I then picked up the strange scent of buttered popcorn. I watched as the bus driver hopped out of his seat and brought a small garbage bin to the back of the bus.
The origin of the smell — some poor guy who didn’t quite have his public transit legs under him — grabbed the bin and ran out. We got to switch buses, but the smell of buttered popcorn continues to me haunt me to this day. I imagine it was an even worse experience for the puker.
While many of these incidents are accidental and probably brought embarrassment or discomfort to both parties, bus drivers have to deal with the worst of it. As someone who likes to put on my headphones and zone out, I can’t imagine the stress of having to deal with so many people while you are behind the wheel navigating the city.
Yet, there are good moments that can occur on the bus as well — like seeing a little toddler smiling at you or a group of people switching seats so a family can sit together. And there are also some simple things that we can do to make the bus experience better for fellow passengers and drivers alike.
We can all do our part to try not to wear strong scents that can bother those with sensitivities on the bus, to control our own volume and to take off our backpacks to make more room when standing on a crowded bus.
It also doesn’t hurt to say thanks to your bus driver every once in a while.
Graphic: Yashica Bither