Thursday, May 22, 2008

All Punched Up

My first fully-punched bus pass.

Ngaio to Downtown Wellington CBD is 3 zones, so $3.50 a pop each way unless you buy bulk. With a 10 trip bus pass, it's $2.80 each trip. 10 trips for $28.00, though if you look carefully there are 12 punches in my pass. Ooops!

You buy passes at just about any dairy, not from the bus drivers (as I originally thought) or the train station (which I didn't actually verify.)

There are lots of bus stops, and I travel almost door-to-door on my commute. It's crazy convenient and I'm actually a little disappointed I don't have to walk farther. I could get off a few stops early, but that's, like, stupid. Most days I futz around with my PSP and the 20-25 minute ride is over fast. So far I haven't missed a bus. Most times of day there's another bus along in half an hour, but thirty minutes of standing at a bus stop doesn't sound like a roaring good time.

There are no old people with fifty day stank on them. There aren't any between-fix crack addicts rocking rhythmically in the corner. No borderline-hookers thumbing their phones. It's a crowd of young people in their school-approved attire, businessmen and women in suits and coats, some have uniforms and/or nametags, and there's rabble like me. It occurred to me that if everyone else on earth were to mysteriously die while we were in the safety of that bus, the human race would probably still stand a chance.

Familiar Faces

I've started to recognize a few faces from along the line and been doling out nicknames to some.

There's a long-haired 11-ish boy with his mum who I call "Ozzy". He looks exactly like a young Ozzy Osbourne and also exactly like his mom---who looks exactly like a female Ozzy Osbourne.

There's "The Vicar" who's a very handsome older gentleman in his 60's with a big smile and lots of teeth. He sits with "Church Lady" who looks a little like Dana Carvey's SNL character but a little rounder and friendlier-looking and in knit gloves. The Vicar engages in lively and friendly conversation with people seated around him.

There are the two high school girls (called College here,) in uniform, who sit together and talk non-stop the whole way. Some days I sit near them to eavesdrop and try to pick words out here and there. They talk a blue streak punctuated with a little heartfelt profanity. When I say non-stop, I mean no period of silence between them has lasted more than three seconds so far---I've been counting it like I count popcorn in the microwave and I swear that bag's still in there... as it were.

"Thank you, driver."

It sounds more like "Thank you dry-vah!" If there are any questions when boarding, they're addressed to "driver." If someone's running for the bus but the driver's starting to pull away, you'll hear "Driver! One second!"

One out of every ten passengers thank the driver as they're exiting the bus. I got in the habit in college (here I mean University, not high school) and still do it. But I can't bring myself to call the driver "driver." I'm not sure why. He knows he's the driver---he took the job in the first place. There's really nothing insulting about being called "driver" by someone who doesn't know your name... especially if you're, in fact, the driver. I'm working on that. I'll probably be able to say "thank you, driver" with conviction right about the time I can order a "kebab" (rhymes with "slab" here) without wincing.


Patois said...

You should so write for a living. You paint such colorful settings. I wonder if there are many scofflaws like you, ruining the system by getting extra punches.

beamjack said...

I recently had a bus ride in S.F. during which a transvestite (dunno pre or post-op) was casting spells on everyone with a pencil as a wand continuously for 20 minutes. There was also a crazy guy arguing with the bus driver over nothing, with the driver telling him to shut up every 30-45 seconds. Oh, and the 24 that runs all the way from from Pac Heights to Bayview is amusing as well.