Bus Rides

I enjoy riding the bus. This, among other things, makes me an anomaly. (It’s difficult to type with a little-guy pulling at your arm and trying to type with you.) I enjoy watching the punk rockers with the stiff colored hair, the teenagers who think they are punks, the true punked teenagers, the yuppies who just got done shopping downtown, the dreary person getting away from work, and the average Joe reading a book with his messenger bag. Now keep in mind, a lot of these views are specific to the current place I call home: Portland, Oregon.

Upon moving to Portland late 2003, I became a frequent Bus Rider. I got a temp job downtown, and the bus stop was only 4-7 minutes, walking, from home. Pregnant Kate and I would sometimes walk (she’d waddle) to the stop, we’d chat, we’d comment, we’d fall asleep once on the bus. I got off at 6th & Columbia, while she road further to 6th & Washington. Currently, the stops are all changed around because of The Next Big Thing going on downtown. My stops that were on 5th, are now on 4th, and my bus was switched, so I have to connect closer to City Hall than before, just to get home. But, as good Bus Riders, we take these changes in stride, and ask questions while going along.

This past year has felt like an abyss in so many ways, and overall I felt in a funk without my regular bus riding. But, now I’m in school fulltime again, and I’m working on a project that puts me downtown everyday. I have resumed my bus riding instead of that boring car riding. I can now eavesdrop on conversations and people watch.

During my people-watching on the MAX headed home, today, A girl with an Elephant’s Deli bag sat near me. I didn’t pay too much attention to her, assuming she was headed off to a party with all those sandwiches, until she pulled a small bottle out of the bag and proceeded to squirt herself with perfume. A huge plum wafted my way, practically making me gag. (I’m very sensitive to smells.) She continued to arrange herself, finally pulling the hood on her cape up over her head, and pulling it down so low that you could not see her face. Why wear the perfume to be noticed if she didn’t want to be noticed? Soon, I noticed that to accompany her warm, black cape, she was wearing very short shorts.

This is why I love riding the bus. Where else, besides LA or New York do you get to see such ironies and fantastic sights? The kids so skinny they look like skeletons, but they still exude a scary confidence juxtaposed with the Baby Boomers who just did their shopping at Macy’s and Nordstrom’s, or caught a flick at the NW Film Center Theater Guild. Where else do you get such a lesson on human nature that is so in your face, than when on public transit open to all?

Clearly, lots of places, but to me, it seems that there is no other place, so condensed where you gut such a variety of personalities. That’s why I enjoy riding the bus, it’s never a dull moment and there is lots to entertain you.

A question: where do you like to people watch and what are the things that stick out most from the people watching?