Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I think, therefore I am (riding the bus)

The next time they ask me, "Have you got an Air Miles card?" at the liquor mart, I'll have an answer.

"No." Pause. "Got a bus pass, though."

I'm a proud owner of the new Winnipeg Transit EcoPass for RRC employees at the Princess Street Campus - the bus pass with the name that reminds you that you're saving the environment at the same time the price reminds you that you're a cheapskate.

The pass is available to RRC staff for a very generous 60 per cent discount (for a total of about $30). It does count as a taxable benefit, though, just like my dental plan, glasses allowance, and back rubs from the gentle-yet-knowing hands of one Larry Partap. 

Buses and the men who ride them

In theory, the pass is intended to get more people to take the bus downtown to work than who already take it. However, a straw poll at the EcoPass info seminar this week showed:
  • Most people who bothered to attend the seminar already take the bus (only one guy said he doesn't).
  • Most of the attendees were men (to the tune of five to one, which is why men are often referred to in song and story as "The Caring Sex"). 
  • Most of the attendees said they have no idea how to use the yellow strips on the back door of the bus in order to disembark, but had a very healthy - no, insane - curiosity about what makes the mechanism work.
"Why don't they change that system to automatic doors?" asked one person.

"I really don't know," answered the gentleman from Winnipeg Transit. "And I really don't care," I continued for him.

As anyone who takes Winnipeg Transit knows, the proper way to disembark through the rear of the bus is to stand with your arms at your side and yell, "Back door!" - to no one in particular and without regard for the double entendre - until the doors finally open on their own and someone pushes you out.

Besides: who cares about yellow strips when you've got White Stripes?

The benefits of bus travel

As a regular transit passenger, I know there are three, main benefits to taking the bus to and from work:

1. It's a bookmobile.

The best thinking and reading of the day happens on my bus route to and from work. I read two books a month on the bus, in addition to my news apps, magazines, and email.

As the classic dialogue from Repo Man goes:
"I do my best thinking on the bus. That's how come I don't drive, see. I don't want to know how. I don't want to learn, see? The more you drive the less intelligent you are."
2. It's reality TV - in person.

The best stories from your day - any day! - happen on the bus. It's where I:
  • Saw a teenager shaving with an electric razor.
  • Learned from a German exchange student that "The kids are running fast to the bus stop" in German is "Die kinder laufen schnell zur haltestelle."
  • Ran into one of my students and said, "This must be winners' bus." Her hilarious reply: "It was until you got on." At least I think she was joking.
  • Saw the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life: a woman getting to the top of the bus steps, only to drop her bus ticket at the same time the guy behind her walked up the steps and turned his face - right into her butt. The big question: given this scenario, who needs to apologize to whom?
3. It's a wake-up call.

No matter what anyone tells you, the best cure for feeling sleepy in the morning is a minus-40 breeze up your pant leg.

See you on the bus, winners.


  1. Yes, isn't it truly fascinating how taking the bus is typically the best and worst part of one's day?


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