I’m getting used to the whole bus-dependency (again). I still prefer DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), but Valley-Metro is probably better than a lot of other transportation systems in this country, so I’ll count it a blessing or whatever. Mostly what I like about DART; the trains cut through most parts of the city and a majority of routes can be taken by train. Plus, Dallas has a lot more money, so everything is kept-up and functional and not trashy looking. Damn I miss that city.
The thing I hate the most about riding the bus here, though, is Route 61. It’s relevant for you to know that I was raised in the middle-class suburbs. Sure, I moved out and learned the value of a dollar and I’ve lived in not-so-great areas, but I’ve always had my family to lend a room if my situation got too bad and they’d make me live with them before considering letting me live anywhere near what could be considered a ghetto. So, I’ve never truly lived in poverty or even in a really shitty part of town. I’ve worked in East Fort Worth (if you know anything about the area, you know what this means) but that’s the only part of ghetto I’ve ever been truly exposed to.
I loved the people I worked with and I loved the hustlers at the gas station (so many good stories) but aside from the working folks and the beggars, there was a whole part of it I didn’t see and that part is very much visible on the 61 bus. On the morning route there is a 12-14 year old boy whose balls have not yet dropped, yet he rides the bus alone. There is also a boy that looks about ten or so that rides the bus alone. This shocks me, partially because I was over-sheltered, but also because of how shitty the route is. It cuts right through Mesa along check-cashing places, temp-agencies, really shady clothing stores, head shops (not the kind that cater to pot heads but more to meth addicts) and plenty of strange hole-in-the-wall places that look like fronts for who-knows-what. The streets are filthy and everything is covered in some weird, smog-film that makes you feel dirty just looking at it. It’s truly disgusting and the neighborhoods are whatever the next step up is from trailer parks.
I guess it’s because my mother was always available for me and could always take me to school if I missed the school bus, so the fact that some parents have no other option but to put their children on the city bus with crack heads and weirdoes just seems strange to me. I’m not trying to paint myself to be the sheltered white-girl, but for the most part, I am. I’m cultured and I’ve got plenty of experience under my belt, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look out of the corner of my eye at the guy with the homeless cart sitting next to me — amazed that his whole life has been reduced to a basket with four wheels.
I’ve seen enough so far in my life that not many things raise my eyebrows anymore, but the 61 challenges this realm of acceptance. Just the other day, the bus driver (a real nasty bitch with a bulging temper) yelled at a passenger on the bus because she, the bus driver, drove past her stop. She was some nasty, old, snaggle-toothed white lady with crazy hair and proof of at least 3 different cats on her sweater and she was arguing with some loud, angry black lady that Paul Bunyan would cross the street to avoid. I was getting the camera on my phone ready; sure the police would need a video of what happened.
Luckily, the bus driver caught glimpse of who she wanted to puff her chest out to and apologized before she dropped her off at the next stop (which also happened to my stop). I watched the lady walk in a huff towards her should-be destination and couldn’t help but want to run up and tell her I’d be happy to call Valley-Metro and report the bus driver. But I stayed out of it because that’s what the suburbs teach you; always take the Gladys Kravitz approach when you can.
For the most part, the bus allows me to read and listen to my music while I watch people. Sometimes, I have to stop both to get Class A recordings of creepers and weirdoes on the bus.
There’s one girl who happens to travel the same two routes I do in the morning (the 72 to the 61) and EVERY morning she calls her grandmother at 6:15. The first time I saw her was a bit before Thanksgiving and she called her grandmother from the bus stop. She has a classic Elmer Fudd lisp, so you can imagine how much I want to ask her to tell me she’s “hunting wabbits”. The first conversation I heard was the BEST. I can only assume it was her first, official day of her job and she wanted to talk to someone, I dunno, but it was quiet at the bus stop when all of a sudden:
“Hewwo, gammaw. How awe you? Oh good, just waiting for the bus. Yeah, yeah. So what awe you doing for Chwistmas? Oh, what are you gonna cook? Uh-huh… uh-huh… yeah, I’m pwobably going to Aunt Carla’s. Yeah, I’m on my way to work. Yeah… I’m pwobably going to Aunt Carla’s. Yeah, she’s cooking. Okay gammaw, my bus is here, I’ll talk to you later. Love you. Bye.”
It was so awkward and unexpected; I couldn’t help but give the situation credit for making my day glitter. If all people were this great on the bus, I’d ride it even if my car was working. But the 61 home could make anyone hate their life. It’s jam-packed with loud, horny 16-year-olds who just got out of school and think if they don’t say “fuck” or “shit” every other word, the sun will burn out. Not to mention the fact that there are no seats so you have to stand and hope that the bus-driver isn’t a heavy-braker. If you have a general dislike for people, being stuffed in a sardine can with them is… there are no words. It’s miserable and if you do get a seat, you pray that the person who sits next to you isn’t sweaty or smelly or even worse, talkative.
The talkers are the worst and you can usually spot them because they’ll make eye-contact (I’ve mentioned this before because it’s entirely true). NO ONE makes eye-contact on the bus, it is unwritten law. You have to be silent and mind your own business unless you are with someone you know or see someone you know.
It’s basic bus-etiquette. Know the rules. All in all, the 61 isn’t as bad as the other bus route I took before switching (passenger-wise). I’d get hit on at the bus stop almost every fucking day by the nastiest people you’ve ever seen coming out of the Check-cashing place. And if someone didn’t talk to me at the bus stop, I knew I was doomed when the bus came. I had a guy talk to me for 25 minutes once about riding the bus, 25 minutes he talked about riding the bus while he was on the bus. 25 minutes I had to listen to that shit and he couldn’t take my not-so-subtle hints.
Seriously, 25 minutes; still appalls me.
I recorded part of it, but I still can’t listen to it all the way through. He even asked if me at one point if I wanted to bring my boyfriend over to his house to smoke weed. No.
No matter how much I bitch, I am grateful for the fact that the public transit here is decent and I’m not begging for rides every day. And because I am dependent on the bus system, I guess that more-or-less makes me a bus person. However at least I’m not a resident of Southern Avenue or any neighborhood in the direct vicinity of the 61 route. I’m proud to say I am an 81 resident and it’s a nice, clean, middle-class suburb full of people who don’t talk to popcorn buckets or beg invisible boyfriends not to break their hearts or even heroin addicts our for a joy-ride on the bus.