Adventures Life

Public Transportation

Last spring I flew back from Atlanta into Westchester's airport. I used to live in White Plains and like flying out of that airport. It's easy to get to and pretty small - almost cozy. There's one airport closer to me, generally offering similar flights/prices but I happened to fly into Westchester. I live about 80 minutes from White Plains and haven't owned a car in eight years. My mother, who gave me a ride to the airport, was out of town. No big deal, I thought. When I lived in WP, I would sometimes hop on the bus and go to my Mom's.

I took a car from the airport to the train/bus station. It wasn’t until the car had arrived that I learned there’s a SHUTTLE that runs to the Metro North and bus station. Fare? $2.50. I spent $25.00 on the car but – now I know. Gas was about $18.40 a gallon then and although I didn’t want to ask my sister to pick me up from White Plains, I did call her to ask for a ride from the local bus station.

I had to wait about 30 minutes for the bus but the day was pleasant. The bus is a coach and they’re usually very clean and comfortable. It’s really no different from riding in a car. Oh, Valerie, but it is. As I waited, there were some crazy folk to contend with. There was a dirty man who asked me (and everyone who walked up) if “this was the bus to Manhattan.” Nah player. Backup. Then there were these two people, a man and woman, who I pegged as possible vagrants. They carried black trash bags and a bike that they stashed under the bus. Then they boarded.

The woman had on layers of clothes and they both had some pungent body odor. I knew something wasn’t right about the man as he was grinning at me with these vacant, shiny eyes. I narrowed my eyes at him when he got too close but said nothing. After we boarded and got on the road to upstate New York, he kept getting up to move from seat to seat. The bus wasn’t at all crowded so I moved toward the back. I was writing in a journal until I realized he was right behind me – leaning in on my space between the bucket seats. His hands were filthy. I told him to back up. A minute later, he moved again. I glanced over and he was laid back in the seat diagonally across from me. I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t really want to look, I promise I didn’t, but something told me to keep an eye on him.

So I looked. It was quite possibly the most revolting thing I’d ever seen. This man was masturbating. Nasty. Ass. I snatched up my laptop bag and promptly moved to the front of the bus. About five minutes later, a young lady moved forward too. Then another woman. Obviously they got the “show” too.

But wait wait wait, it get’s worse! – Sticky Fingaz , ONYX. Fifteen minutes after that, one of them went into the bathroom and laid down a stench like you wouldn’t believe. One woman kept moaning, “Oh my God… oh my God…” I was disgusted but it was so terrible that all I could do was laugh hysterically. YUCK. Tears in my eyes, I pulled my shirt over my nose but that funk hung like thick fog and didn’t dissipate for about 20 minutes. Just HORRIBLE.

Here’s what I didn’t realize: the bus driver was paying close attention to all that was going on. He didn’t speak to any of us but one of the ladies may have told him about the guy. He apparently called the police, who were waiting when we stopped to pick up more passengers. The Funky Bunch was physically removed from the bus by police. I admit, I felt a smidgen of empathy because I could hear the woman talking to the police and she was so upset. She said she hadn’t done anything. She didn’t. It was HIM. If they really were homeless, it must have taken some time to get enough money together to get on the bus. I don’t think our stop was their final destination either. She needed to get rid of that crazy man and find a shelter. I said a little prayer for them but I can’t lie, I was VERY relieved. I wasn’t the only one to sincerely thank the driver either.

Other than that, the rest of the trip was fine… except, I had use the ladies room (drank too much water and really had to go something awful) and was deathly afraid to go into the one on the bus. Now that I think about it, I’ve never liked to use restrooms on buses, trains and especially planes. I mean, what if I get sucked out the bottom of the aircraft somehow? Anyway, I hopped off at the bus stop in Middletown NY, about 30 minutes from my destination. There was a deli there with a rest room. Great! I go to flush. No handle. Wait. No handle? WTF. I think water conservation:“If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” but continue to frantically look all over. It’s a public restroom. How the hell is there no handle?? Finally, I lift the back cover off the tank, stick my hand in and pull the chain up to flush it. Luckily there was running water and anti-bacterial soap.

My sister picked me up at the bus station with my niece-dog Jada in tow. Never been so glad to see fam and ride in a private vehicle. I had her in tears with an account of my trip. So would I swear off public transportation? Hecksno. But I’ll be a watchful of those around me.

Another Thought:

On my last trip to ATL, I took MARTA to my hotel. I don’t know what the big deal is about taking MARTA for ATLiens but there’s apparently some kind of stigma – like you ain’t nobody when you take MARTA. Or you’re destitute. So many people ride the train in NYC. There’s no parking or it’s outrageously expensive, parking rules, alternate side of the street, traffic… it’s just easier. Convenience of a cab? A buncha hooey. The MARTA entrance is right near baggage claim and dropped me less than a block from my hotel. I’ve taken cabs and paid $35+ not counting tip. MARTA cost me….$4.00 ROUND TRIP. LOL Let’s do the math, shall we? $70-80 round trip as opposed toooo $4.00. Hmmm. There were escalators and elevators so even managing my luggage wasn’t bad. When I left the hotel, a bellman helped me with my bags. He was a young brother – very pleasant… asked me where I was from. I said NY. He was from Brownsville. He immediately said, “You gettin’ on the train right?” I said, “Hell yeah. Atlanta folk act like it’s raggedy to ride MARTA – sheeeeeit.” All I know is I had more money in my pocket for food and water at the airport.

Originally Written: January 6, 2009

OneHipSista

Hi. I'm Valerie. Glad you're here – come on in and sit a spell. I've never put so much of my writing online but I share my personal experiences in hopes that I help someone in some way. I hope you find something you read thought-provoking, amusing or encouraging. Reach out or comment if you like. Please forgive the typos, grammar and cussing. Thanks for stopping by.

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