Jessica Gross

Posts Tagged ‘bus’

Bus Blooper

In people watching on March 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

At 3:00a.m. on Friday night (technically, Saturday morning), I hopped on the uptown M15 to head home from a party — my friend’s roommate’s boyfriend’s party. (Whew.) My roommate, on hearing what I’d done, chastised me. “The bus? At three in the morning? You’re insane.”

But I wasn’t: there were a few friendly folks aboard my trusty vessel. One guy yelled to his friend as he boarded, in a thick New York accent: “Call me at home!” (“Cawl me at home!”)

The bus’s microphone picked up his voice. “CAWL ME AT HOME!” The guy looked out at the four of us passengers, smiling. “I guess everyone heard that.” And, as he sat behind me, “I’m on here til 83rd Street!”

So, my two points: (1) the bus is safer than you think, and (2) even on public transportation, you can make a new friend. You just might have to embarrass yourself first.


Stop Requested

In musings, people watching on March 6, 2009 at 5:33 pm

If you’ve never ridden a New York City bus, let me induct you into our elite circle with some info about protocol. Unlike our underground friend, the subway, the bus does not pull over at every stop along its route. No siree! If there are people at the bus stop, yeah, it’ll let them on. But if no one is waiting, something special has to happen.

Are you on the edge of your seat? I present you with the magic formula: to ensure that the bus will let you off, you’ve got to press the tape.

Huh? What’s the tape? Oh, silly you. Along the walls of the bus, at two-seat intervals, are sensor-filled strips, colored yellow or black. When you push on these pieces of “tape,” the bus driver is alerted that you’d like to get off at the next stop. That way, if no one’s waiting and no one needs to get off, the bus can sail right by the stop without wasting time.

It’s a brilliant system. As I mused about it today on the M79, something odd struck me: people usually don’t wait until the last minute to press the tape, hoping that someone will do it before them. With regularity, passengers request each stop way before the bus has reached it.

Why did this surprise me? For one, I’m not one of the responsible passengers: I often do wait for someone else to push the tape. And, whenever I wait, someone else takes action.
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Snowstorm in March

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

As I sprinted toward the M79 bus this morning, fistfuls of snow flew in my face. I blinked the flakes out of my eyes and forged ahead, big boots flying.

“What, you was playing in the snow?” the bus driver asked as I boarded, then burst into hysterics. “The collar!” he shrieked, pointing at my snow-caked jacket.

Actually, I would like to play in the snow. So he wasn’t far off.

Only on the UES

In people watching on February 16, 2009 at 12:13 pm

On the Blackberry of the woman sitting next to me on the M86 crosstown bus:

“Oh, I know — I’d (almost) rather do my own taxes than watch that.”

The Difference Between Dogs and People

In people watching on February 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm

You can pet a stranger’s dog. You can’t pet a stranger’s child.

Man in front of me on the bus, who said “Hey, Buddy!” to two frightened children while giving them noogies, I hope you’re reading this.

I Hear the Best Quotes on the Bus

In quotables on January 14, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Early in the morning, a mother and a father (different families) were on school-run duty with their sons. The father turned to his parent friend and boasted, “You know, Eric loves to surf.” His son, on cue, jumped into a surfing stance — riding the bus, as it were.

“We don’t allow surfing,” the mother replied. She turned to her child, prisoner of neurotic parenting.

The father grimaced. “Eric, be careful,” he said. “There’s not enough space.”

Classic parent back-down: dad did a 180, but pretended it was unrelated to the mother’s disdain. I, meanwhile, took notes on my copy of the Week In Review.


In musings on January 12, 2009 at 1:07 am

I need to be the first person at the bus stop to spot our chariot in the distance, so I stand way out from the curb and peer down the street. The other day, as I waited for the M15 up First Avenue, I saw the top of some vehicle with a line of tiny orange lights. The bus!

But it wasn’t the bus — it was a truck. As it passed, I thought about how close I’d come to spotting the M15, my savior from the cold.

I used to do this, too, when I waited for my mom to pick me up from school. I’d see her shiny gray Volvo coming down the street…approaching the school…and then — damn. A saggy old man sat in the driver’s seat.

In fact, this makes no sense. A truck that looks like a bus, or my mom’s car driven by a grandpa, are no closer to being what I’m waiting for than an elephant hula hooping down the road.

Overheard at the Bus Stop

In quotables on November 19, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Seventy-year-old woman: HelLO, Tom!

Stodgy, middle-aged man turns around.

Old woman: Oh, you look just like Tom! He’s — Tom — he lives across the street…Tom, my neighbor…

Not-Tom’s wife (snarling): It’s MIKE.

Me (to the wife, in my head): The chance that the old lady is hitting on your husband is zero percent. You should be so lucky.

Bus Driver Buddies

In musings, people watching on November 13, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Yesterday morning, at the intersection of York and 68th, our M31 bus driver laughed and waved.

I looked out the window to see who he was waving to. It was another MTA driver making a right onto York, in front of our bus.

Did they see each other at this intersection every morning? I wondered if they looked forward to the daily meet-and-greet.

But wait — did they know each other outside of these waving sessions? Maybe they’d never actually spoken, but had just seen each other at this intersection so many times they’d become familiar from afar! I imagined their eventual meeting after so many silent hellos:
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Back to the Bus People

In musings on November 12, 2008 at 1:52 pm

I’ve argued repeatedly that bus people are nicer. My brother visited a couple of weekends ago, and while on the bus, I repeated this, apparently my favorite and only sound byte.

“Well, yeah,” he said. “They know they’re going to be on the bus for a long time.”

Is that it? Are bus people just nicer than subway people because they’re committed to an indefinitely long journey? I prefer a cool self-selection theory, or something that involves old people. Thoughts?