I like public transportation. I think that public transportation is one of the best things ever, it makes people walk a little so that they stay healthier, it makes the planet healthier, it’s faster than driving most of the time, and it is certainly safer than driving. The only thing that is better about having a car is that you get to choose who you ride with. I think anyone that rides the bus on a regular basis can say that people are strange.
Generally, when I am on the bus, I try not to look at anyone, listen to music, and generally pretend that there aren’t any people around me. I think that this is the most common reaction to suddenly being placed in a tiny moving room with a bunch of strangers, and most people play along. But not everyone plays along, oh no.
One sunny day I was riding the bus home, it was pretty empty and there were seats to spare after the old and the infirm sat down, so I took a seat. The girl next to me was politely staring out the window, we were all playing the game well. That lasted for exactly one stop. At the next stop, a man got on, who looked like he would smell of booze (and he did), who for some reason decided to stand next to my seat even though the bus was pretty much empty. He was leaning against my shoulder a little, and I kept inching away, trying to maintain my illusion that there weren’t any people around me. I looked out the window, I leaned over, and he kept leaning in more. If I were a little more worldly, I would have realized what was going on. When I felt the first movement, I convinced myself that it was nothing, that there was no way, that I would just lean over more and nothing would happen. I was pretty much all the way into the seat next to me, and about ten seconds later, the movements became unmistakeable, and I realized that the man was indeed masturbating on my shoulder in a trolleybus. (he kept it in his pants the entire time, otherwise I would still be in a bleach bath, I think) I was stunned for about half a second, and then I jumped up and went to the front of the bus, putting as many people between myself and him as I possibly could. I was too shocked to make a scene. I looked back at him once, and his face, oh yuck, he was looking at me with this sad sack look, like I had hurt his feelings by not allowing myself to be turned into a human sex toy.
So, after that, I walked everywhere for a week or so because I wasn’t mentally able to deal with riding the bus. Then, after a long day at school, I decided to take the bus again. I mean, I have been riding it for months without incident, what are the chances that something bad/gross/almost funny but in a terrible, terrible way would happen again? With all of my justifications firmly in mind, I got on the bus. I looked out the window, I tried with little success to decipher the Russian that the young men were speaking next to me, and I get to my stop without incident. When the doors opened and I began to move toward it, the loudest of the young men stepped in front of me, looked pointedly at my chest,and said, simply “big tits”. In English. Why he chose English, I have no idea. I am not sure if he sensed that I am an English speaker and he wanted to be sure that he was understood, or if he is in the curse words only stage of learning English and he was pretty sure that I wouldn’t understand. Either way– what. the. fuck. Can’t a woman even ride a bus without being physically or verbally assaulted by a random man?
So, now my love for public transportation is more of a love-hate thing. I still think it’s an effective way to move lots of people around with the minimum resources. I just think that every person I see on the bus now is a potential wackadoo.
I miss my bike.