The weirdos on the bus go round and round

By: Katie Duncan

I’ve learned in my two years worth of traveling between Guelph and Toronto via Greyhound that there is one thing you should never do while commuting. My mother would cringe at the thought of what I’m about to tell you, but hindsight being 20/20, I wish someone would have warned me to never, ever offer a stranger more help than you’re willing to give. Actually, allow me to rephrase. Never offer to help. Ever.

Last September, a man approached me at the Greyhound station in Guelph asking directions to the American Consulate-General in Toronto. For reasons still unknown to me, I offered to Google map his coordinates. I must admit, even this was pushing my general niceness at 5:30 a.m.

Needless to say, I found what he was looking for. Conversation over, yes? Not according to him. In the time it would probably take Rob Ford to climb all the way to the top stairwell of Toronto City Hall (the same amount of time it takes to get from Guelph to Toronto by bus), I had learned this man’s life story. This included that he was from Ethiopia, and probably only knew that one word in English. Make that two words: he also knew the word penis and continued to spout off about his for about an hour.

Not too many other stories I’ve heard come close to this one, with the exception of Toronto’s own “TTC screwers”, who insisted on having sex this winter on the subway. The point is, there is invariably a ton of people you will meet while you’re commuting and this bit of warning will not only save your time, but in my case, your breakfast.

In honour of our phallic friend above, let’s start with talkers. I don’t mean your everyday, eye rolling, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ types. I mean the ones that begin with personal details and never stop once they’ve caught your gaze. This moment is crucial. Once you’ve made eye contact, there’s no going back. I personally like to mercilessly point at my headphones and fane disappointment that I can’t carry on the meaningless conversation they were hoping to have.

The next is a personal favourite of mine because it offers the only form of entertainment in Toronto that early in the morning, without having to stand outside of the Zanzibar. They vary in size, and I don’t mean the people. Instead, I refer to the endless slew of belongings that they deem themselves important enough to bring to work everyday. These people come with more baggage than Charlie Sheen on tiger blood, but without all the “winning”. Instead, they give you whining, mostly because there isn’t a seat strong enough for all of their crap. I call them sluggers because of the inevitable swing to the groin they give other passengers who get in their way of a free seat. It should be noted that this also qualifies as entertainment, so long as it’s not you.

For Greyhound and Go riders, I give you next, the regulars. These are demanding little jerks who assume they should be served first regardless of the fact that we all pay the same going rate.

I personally love standing in line for an hour only to see those last minute priority boarders show up to stake claims on prime seating. They’re the ones with heated blankets and neck pillows who pretend to be asleep, as other unlucky passengers move on.

What makes it worse is, regulars know all of the other regulars. They save seats for each other and talk so loudly that it’s impossible to curl up against the window to avoid dying of exhaustion.

By far the worst, though, are the ones who look absolutely normal. Even they can pack a powerful punch, and I don’t mean with their luggage. These are the folks I like to call the odour ogres. The smell sneaks up on you like the Pink Panther. You frantically look at your watch to determine how long you can survive the watering eyes and gag reflex in the back of your throat.

It’s enough to make sure you never judge another book by its perfectly pressed suit cover again because the truth is just lurking beneath.

Finally, we come to the ingrates. These are the types, particularly for Greyhound riders, who request stops that do not exist on the route. The bus is not a cab, people. It will not drop you off at your preferred destination, nor does it end at your front door.

The worst part is that once an ingrate has requested a stop, it gives way to more requests from other riders. If your face doesn’t literally resemble that of a troll face from the online comics by the time you reach downtown, pat yourself on the back. You’ve won this round.

Now that you know who you’re looking for, I challenge you dear reader to think; as unfortunate as it is, every person falls into one of these categories. The real question, aside from how the hell am I going to survive the smell of the guy sitting next to me, which category do you fall under?

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