Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

I Hate Public Transportation

This was previously published on Blogcritics.org. You can read my original article here.

My afternoon was going well. It was the first day of school, I’d been back from Air Force ROTC field training only a few days, and civilian life felt like paradise. If I had suddenly burst into song, everyone around me probably would have sung backup and performed choreographed dance moves like I was in a musical. Everything was great until I got on the shuttle.

Allow me to preface the following by saying that most of the time, I view taking the shuttle as the lesser of two evils. The greater evil, what with being a college student and all, would have been to drop two hundred dollars on a parking permit. While taking the shuttle to and from the free parking takes more time, I’m all about saving my benjamins.

Once you get used to it, the shuttle isn’t so bad. True, it can be crowded, occasionally late, and nearly always too hot, but these conditions are forgivable. The real issue is when you are forced to deal with one of Them. By that, I mean one of those particular people that, if seated nearby, will make your shuttle ride absolutely miserable.

The first of these cretins is the Loud Talker. While this person usually sticks to their cell phone, it is possible for two of them to actually be sitting together and interact in person. You’d think they would cancel each other out, or something. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Loud Talkers amplify each other’s speech exponentially, and quickly exasperate all others in the area. Headphones help, but you can still hear them, no matter how loud you crank the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The second horror you might encounter is the Smelly Nerd. This person is usually male, and won’t talk at all, instead choosing to whip out the PSP or DS and get in a little portable gaming. In fact, gaming is the indirect cause of this person’s offensive odor. They spend so much time playing videogames that personal hygiene becomes a secondary concern. Rest assured, it will become your primary concern if you encounter one while using public transportation. Your best bet is to open all windows around you (if they open) and hope for some ventilation.

The third destroyer of your shuttle experience is the Overweight Female. I know that sounds sexist, but in my experience the Overweight Male is relatively self-aware, whereas the Overweight Female, whether out of denial or naivety, has an unfortunate tendency to sit in open areas that are clearly narrower than she is. This results in an invasion of what little personal space (and dignity) you have on a bus. Furthermore, there is no acceptable recourse in this situation that isn’t incredibly rude and socially unacceptable. Just close your eyes and try to think happy thoughts until the ride is over.

Finally, you’ve got the Ex-Girlfriend. This one is the worst. Not only is there complicated protocol involved (which varies depending on the nature of the break up), you’re generally expected to actually speak with her. How’ve you been? Still working at the same place? Good to see you. Something along those lines is mandatory. If you parted on good terms, you’ll probably have to sit next to her and continue the awkward small talk. If that’s the case, I pity you. On the other hand, if the relationship ended badly, you can keep on walking to the back. Disaster averted, high five.

There’s only one time any of these will create a Serious Problem. When I say a problem, I mean a situation where you’re well and truly screwed, no way around it. If more than one of Them show up on a given shuttle ride and sit next to or around you, may God have mercy on your soul. On the twenty-fifth of August, 2008, I experienced a Serious Problem. In fact, this was beyond serious. It was straight up catastrophic.

On my ride home that day, fate doomed me to endure the presence of not one, not two, not three, but all four of Them. I had a Smelly Nerd to my right, an Overweight Female to my left, a Loud Talker across from me, and the Ex-Girlfriend standing in the aisle not two feet from me. It was like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, public transportation style.

How did I survive such an encounter? I didn’t, at least not completely. A little piece of me died that day. The powers of foul odor, obesity, noise pollution, and death glares put the beat-down on me. It was horrific, requiring weeks of group therapy before I could once again function within society.

To this day, now and forever, I hate public transportation.

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October 9, 2008 - Posted by | Humor, Personal | ,

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