It’s no stretch to assume that those who commute daily on public transportation have some sort of hopeful expectation that their commute will go smoothly. It’s not ideal, and based around the times in which they are forced to go on their commute, it’s certainly not comfortable. While in the morning their time on public transportation means gearing up for the day, and in the afternoon, detoxing from it, there are a select few perpetrators who can make this ordeal a living hell.
Although I am a San Franciscan that does not have to take public transportation for an hour or more to get to work in the mornings, I have experienced the subsequent list below in my own time, and feel absolute empathy for those poor souls who are forced to deal with it incessantly. And now, a list of 10 ways on how to not be a dick on public transportation, followed by the badass alternatives to ensure perfect harmony whilst on public transit.
1. Bags on the seat
Nothing makes a fellow bus rider feel less important than having to stand so your precious bag can sit in an open seat. Look, we all get it, having to put your bag on the ground in between your feet, or god forbid, on your lap is a massive inconvenience, however seats are for butts, not bags man. I know, I know, bags think they’re people too, but also so do people.
Badass alternative: In order to ensure you aren’t getting silently judged by a fellow public transit patron, simply place your bag on the ground in between your feet, or on your lap.
2. Listening to your music out loud or without headphones
If you’re like me, and tend to lose or break headphones on a very consistent basis, then you know the monotony of having to take public transportation grows an absurd amount without being able to listen to music. That is unless the gentleman or lady sitting three or four seats behind you is listening to their respective jams out loud. But surprisingly, them sharing their music taste for all to hear honestly just makes it fuckin’ worse. I think most would rather listen to the pre-recorded stops echoing over the bus’ speaker system every so often than listen to that. It’s always kind of muffled so you’re not positive what song it is, but still loud enough to hear that there is indeed a song playing, so it acts both as a tease and as an annoyance.
Badass alternative: I mean, like, put headphones in.
Some people talk very loudly, and it’s just how they talk and that’s excusable. Juxtaposed to that, some people mumble, and it’s also just how they talk and 100% forgivable. And then there are the yellers. Whether it be in an argument, or in a colloquial conversation, some people just yell. While dangerousdecibals.com provides educational information to the public on how to prevent hearing loss, and gives the statistic “For every 3 dBAs over 85 dBA, the permissible exposure time before possible damage can occur is cut in half,” most public transit users will give the statistic “Please don’t yell on the bus. These are close quarters, and it hurts, and also it’s rude.” And that would be putting it lightly.
Badass alternative: There are indoor voices, and there is “don’t yell while on the bus” voice. Please use the latter.
4. Personal grooming
I once was stuck in between a portly gentleman letting his unkempt belly hang out, and someone clipping their fingernails. Let me tell you, I most definitely could have excused the portly man if I wasn’t having to dodge nail trimmings shooting left and right like I just stepped out of a… wait, I shouldn’t have to metaphorize this because it’s just unacceptable. Leave them clippers at home people! Not one person ever wants to be next to someone clipping their nails on a packed bus, even the people clipping their nails.
Badass alternative: Leave them clippers at home people!
5. Eating smelly food
We’re all human, and as humans we have the inherent drive to feed throughout the day in order to not just retain, but also put to use the nutrients and energy we naturally get from eating. That being said, eating fish fresh from Fisherman’s Wharf, or just any fresh, smelly fish in general on MUNI is definitive blasphemy in the world of public transportation.
Badass alternative: Wrap that baby up in a FireKing Security Group safe and don’t open it up until you get to the sanctity of your own home.
6. Invading personal space
I present to you a hypothetical scenario: The bus on this particular morning is actually not as packed as expected. You recognize this before entering, which makes you as jovial as can be. You give the driver your two dollars and twenty-five cents, and even though the bus is emptier than usual, you promptly see a comforting, empty corner in the back of the bus and pick that as the spot you will subsequently spend your commute. You just bought a new pair of headphones, and baby life is great. Until, that is, you get to the next stop and a single passenger gets on, pays their bus fair, walks straight to the back of the bus past a plethora of empty seats, and stands right next to you. So, if there is somewhere to stand, or better yet, somewhere to sit in which you will not be invading someone else’s personal space but rather creating your own personal space you too most likely do not want invaded, go ahead and choose that spot.
Badass alternative: Remember your 8th grade dance? Arms-length apart please.
7. Standing your ground
We all hold different statuses in our lives. Some people are CEOs of fortune 500 companies; some are mere content writers trying to figure out what they want to do in life. But when it comes to public transportation, we’re all on the same level. So when someone is trying to get off, and you’re standing by the door, get the hell off the bus to streamline the whole process. I know, your parents probably mentioned that giving up your ground might be viewed as a sign of weakness to others, but standing your ground in this situation just makes you look like a bonafide jackass. Put your fragile ego to the side and be kind to those around you.
Badass alternative: Give up that warming sensation of a messenger bag sliding across your stomach and get off the bus to make room.
8. Small talk with strangers, particularly if they’re wearing headphones
Not all of us are extroverts. In fact, most of us, at least when riding public transportation tend to automatically introvert in hopes of getting from point A to point B without having to muster up the courage of telling someone, “Right now isn’t the best time to be having a conversation.” Sure, in a social setting, maybe after a few drinks, most will gladly spark, and or retort in small talk with a stranger. But if – and here we go with the headphones again – you see a lone passenger wearing headphones, looking down or out the window, I would say going up to them, tapping on their shoulder and seeing if they would like to indulge is some good-old-fashioned small talk would be a bad idea. But then again, it could be worse. That small talk instigator could be a “yeller” in which they just kinda yell at you until you have to take your headphones out, promptly followed by “The weather’s crazy today, ain’t it?”
Badass alternative: We live in San Francisco, the weather is always a bit crazy. Refrain from talking to people who blatantly look like they don’t want to have a conversation.
Although you arguing with your significant other is probably the most entertaining thing that will happen to someone on their commute, we can’t really pop the popcorn, put our feet up and simply enjoy. And while we all feel for, and possibly even understand the issue that could have arisen leading to your argument, it is difficult for us to fully empathize when the argument is occurring less than a foot away from us, let alone on a packed bus.
Badass alternative: Good arguments between couples should occur in a place in which make-up sex can also occur – which also should be on this list… so argue at home you beautiful couples!
10. Not Standing Up for Old People
We all know about those seats at the front of the bus designated for old or handicapped people. It’s totally fine to sit there. Every hard worker deserves a seat after a long day. But guess what? That old man who’s visibly suffering from some form of ailment actually NEEDS that seat. So stop burying your head in your phone and acting like you don’t see him limping onto the bus. Yes, reading that gif-filled article about how Jennifer Lawrence is seriously just like all of us is harder while standing up, but senior citizens have been putting up with your shit for years. You owe them a seat, whether it’s in the front or the back of the bus.
Badass alternative: Give up your seat for the elderly. And don’t feel like a martyr if you do, it’s called being a decent human.