Monday, January 08, 2007

What would Miss Manners say?

Every Monday, I take K. to an art class. We walk to the bus stop and catch a bus which drops us off practically at the door. This is a fairly crowded bus (we often have to stand) which goes right through the middle of the city in the middle of the day. It's a normal, expected kind of crowded. Sometimes we even get seats, and we usually have room to breathe.

I kill a couple of hours in town while she has her class (shopping at second hand shops, visiting the market, going to the library, reading in a coffee shop--it's not hard), and then I pick her up and we head home.

We take the same bus line home, but we are catching it just after 6:00pm. At that time of day, a lot of folks are finished with work, school, or whatever their daily business may be, and they are going home. With us. On the same bus. We are fortunate enough to board early in the route, and we usually manage to get seats, for which I am profoundly grateful.

As the bus runs back through the middle of town, heading towards home, more and more people get on. They are going home, too, not into town, so practically no one gets off. It's always packed, standing-room-only, and the few times I've been standing too it was quite a crush. Tonight was worse then usual. The bus was so full, and the people so crammed in, the doors weren't closing very well.

Sitting down for the ride is better than standing, but when the time comes to get off, it's a different story. Tonight there were masses of people standing between us and the door, and I realized that we were sitting in such a way that K. would have to get up and move in front of me toward the door. People packed into buses do not part like the Red Sea. It is quite frankly a matter of pushing your way off, and most definitely doing it before anyone starts to board, or it can be a lost cause. On more than one occasion, the bus driver has closed the doors before I made it to the exit during these busy evening rides.

As we neared our stop, I began explaining to K. that she was going to have to go first, and that she was going to have to PUSH and INSIST on being let through. You have to excuse yourself and tell people "I get off here," I explained. There was just no way I could get around her to go first, letting her hold on to me and follow from behind.

Well, we got to our stop, and we got off (barely) before new riders began boarding. K. immediately began to complain about this person with a bag and that person who wouldn't let her through (remember, though, that no one really has anyplace to go--there is no room to step aside). After she got it out of her system, I said, "There aren't many times or places where it is appropriate to push and shove people to get what you want, but getting out of a crowded bus is one of them."

Actually, with a little practice, I think she'll be an expert.


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