OCHAZUKE: Riding the Bus

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By MAGGIE ISHINO

(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on June 9, 2010.)

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Since the beginning of 2009, I have had to take three buses because of necessity to get to work, to doctors’ appointments or to meet friends in Little Tokyo. Riding the bus is an experience, to say the least.

Since it takes me at least 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get to my destination, I usually read The Reader’s Digest or some other compact magazine or work on a crossword puzzle. However, when I tire of reading or working on the crossword puzzle, I turn to people watching to amuse myself. I see young men remain seated while an old man with a cane is standing right beside them. I see young men seated while a mother holding a baby is standing just to their left. It’s not only discourteous, but thoughtless for the young men not to give up their seats.

I have heard every word that people say on their cell phones when they sit behind me, next to me or across from me. They should ban cell phones while on the bus or allow usage only in an emergency. There is a posted notice on the bus which reads, “No radios,” No drinking/eating,” “No smoking.” Why can’t this be applied to cell phones?

When sitting on an aisle seat, women let their huge tote bags and men with their large briefcases, swing to and fro, bumping into one’s arm and thigh. I have had bruises on my arm and thigh because of this inconsideration.
I witnessed something gross one morning while riding to work: A man was sitting next to a lady in the very front seat of the bus. He sneezed twice, rubbed his nose and coughed three times. He then asked the woman next to him if she had any Kleenex. She gave him an unopened pocket size package of Kleenex. He could not open it with his hands, after trying, so he bit the tissue pack and opened it with his teeth. He then took out a Kleenex tissue and blew his nose and returned the Kleenex to the woman. The woman took it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!
The worst cold I think I caught was when a stupid man standing next to my aisle seat had a terrible cold. He blew his nose and then waved his snotty handkerchief right in front of me. I was absolutely miserable for a week.
In the winter during the rainy season, the bus smells like the fur of a wet dog because some people wear wool coats/jackets. The dampness from the wool clothing causes a somewhat offensive odor especially when the bus driver turns on the heater. Then again, when the weather is warm, why does the bus driver turn on the heater? When the weather is cold, why does the bus  driver turn on the air conditioner? Oh well.
Waiting for the bus at the corner or sitting next to someone on the bus can be a new way to strike up a friendship. In this way I have had  three or four fellow passengers with whom I converse, making the bus ride more enjoyable.
I do have to admit the bus DOES get me where I want to go. I must admit, however, I have to coincide my time with the bus company’s schedule making me leave home much earlier than my scheduled appointment. Another advantage is it saves the wear and tear and gas expenses on my car.

Perhaps it seems as though I have done nothing but complain about the bus system, but at the beginning of this article, I did say it is quite an experience to ride the bus. I have, therefore, related some of the experiences and/or thoughts I have riding the bus. (I have told my family and friends when I stop complaining, then they will have something to worry about.)
Ride on, Maggie! AMEN!

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Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist. Ochazuke is a staff-written column. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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