Friday, March 30, 2007

Things Learned on the Bus

In the midst of a hilarious takedown of Jonah Goldberg, The Editors make a great point: if you find it difficult to ignore truly wacko statements, try riding the bus.
I used to ride the public bus a lot, like 3 hours every day. So maybe the thought that some dude somewhere said something crazy is less exciting to me than it is to people with less bus-riding expertise. My advice? When the person you are going to have to sit next to for the next hour and a half is obviously batshit insane? Talk about the weather. I have been exposed to the full, glorious panoply of mental illness and brain damage in my time on public transportation, and I have yet to encounter anyone so far gone that they can’t be calmed by polite small talk about the weather.
Amen. There's nothing like being trapped on a bus with at least one nut or crackhead or drunk a couple times a week to desensitize you to crazy talk.

I did once encounter a nut who was immune to smalltalk about the weather, though. We were waiting for the bus (not the same bus, thank goodness) in Arlington, VA. He was 100% sure the air in Arlington was "bad," and he needed to get to Fairfax (the next county over) as soon as possible. The only reason he was able to survive in the Arlington air was because he had a snorkel duct-taped to his nose. I know this because he explained it, in sputtering sentence fragments and at the top of his lungs, over and over again. For added security, he'd blow a whistle really loudly every couple of minutes.

I think he's a deputy secretary over at DHS now.


Mike said...

I think he's the host on "The Factor" actually.

One of my favorite public transportation characters is "The guy he talks to his friend with great confidence . . . only everything he says is wrong."

This guy always drives me nuts. You know, "Boston used to be the Capital of the US. Yeah, from like 1753 to 1804 I think," or "Richard Petty pitched for the Yankees before he went to NASCAR. Threw a no-hitter in the World Series."

I always have to bite my tongue not to leap in and correct the errors.

Sylvana said...

See, now it was my family that desensitized me. They are crazy.

And that "The guy he talks to his friend with great confidence...only everything he says is wrong"? Yeah, that's my mom.

Thrillhous said...

Family is a great introduction to insanity. That's why I always thought of Arrested Development as more of a docudrama than anything else.

I haven't met mr. know it all on my commutes, but I have come across the guy who claims to know famous people, like the guy who used to party with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.

S.W. Anderson said...

Cleanest, neatest bus I ever rode on was the last one I ever rode on, along the strip in Las Vegas. All but one of my fellow passengers were neatly dressed, quiet and completely normal, judging by their behavior.

The one exception looked normal enough, but was a pickpocket who came within a fraction of an inch of filching a woman's wallet from her satchel-like purse. The bus jerked, he failed to get the wallet but saw I noticed what he was trying to do.

He quickly made for the rear exit and got off at the next corner.