I bus in from New Jersey to New York City every morning for work. People hate the bus. Since I am a person (for the most part), I hate the bus. Every one of them always smells. No matter where you sit on it there is always some kind of funky smell. One of the ones I was on last week smelled like a wet towel that hadn’t had a chance to properly dry.
On the bus, most of the seats are very close together; except for the heaven of all bus seats. Much like the emergency aisle on a plane, the bus has a handicapped row. It is not really a row for all kinds of disabled people. (For example, while definitely mentally challenged, Britney Spears would not necessarily need to sit in this section of the bus.) Instead, it is actually the row where the seats can be moved to accommodate wheel chairs. If you get to sit in one of the seats on this row before anyone else does, you have hit the jackpot and may as well retire. The reason: leg room.
People fight for this row. You can see them at the bus stop before anyone boards. There is no line at many bus stops so people kind of just get onto the bus in any order they choose while trying to seem not overly rude about it (this being the east coast, “overly rude” carries the “no blood, no foul” definition). But when that bus pulls up, people hurry to the part of the curb where they hope the bus’s door will stop. Whomever is lucky enough to be in front of the door starts grinning like an office worker calling out sick. They grin because they know that they have a good chance at getting to wheelchair row.
I made it to wheelchair row once. I was euphoric. Of all the times I’d been on the bus, this was my first time getting to sit in that row. I sat down happily and leaned back. My legs stretched out in front of me and I felt as happy as a monkey in a banana store. As my legs and knees enjoyed their good fortune, I may or may not have sighed audibly. I felt bad for the poor, jealous sucker behind me who had to deal with the thought of my amazingly good fortune.
As the bus pulled away from the curb with a lurch, I was pressed back into my chair by gravity and fell into the lap of the person behind me. People on the East Coast love to curse. So instead of saying, “Ouch!” at six thirty in the morning, when my seat back hit his knees, he screamed “Shit!” as loud as he could. I wanted to scream, “Where?” but thought it might exacerbate the situation. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I exclaimed instead, and pushed the button in my arm rest to make my seat back go up again. I leaned carefully back into my chair again as we came to a stop light. I realized that I couldn’t put too much pressure on the seat back because it was obviously broken. The bus took off with a jump as the light turned green. Once again I was thrown into the back of my chair and once again my chair hit the knees of the guy behind me. This time he said a different curse word which used to earn movies an “R” rating. “Man, I’m sorry. This chair is broken,” I muttered. “Yeah, no shit, genius,” he growled back. I spent the rest of my commute to New York not able to lean back in my seat.
I hate busses. Even when you get the good seat, it’s the bad seat.