How to Entertain Yourself on Public Transportation
The longer title:
How to Entertain Yourself on Public Transportation Without “Entertaining” Yourself
I was digging through the dregs of the Goodwills today, looking for some type of outfit that screamed Roller Skating Space Party (I was unsuccessful) for the Creature Space Party tonight. (If you go, come say hi. I’ll be working the bar and probably have an outfit that involves a lot of tin foil). As I was feeding my pinball games and liquor store tall boys to the meters, I couldn’t help but wonder if I should have taken MUNI and that ballooned into thoughts about public transportation in general. All in all, I’m not a big fan. I like the idea of it; it should get you where you’re going for fairly cheap and sometimes you get to witness exciting things that make for an R-rating: sex, drugs, violence. But unlike cable, you can’t change the channel if some guy is threatening to stab you. And unless I remember to bring my Snuggie and a pocket of goldfish crackers with me, standing on the corner waiting hours for a bus that never comes is cold, not cozy, and there are no snacks.
It’s usually just a pain (an often unavoidable, fact-of-life pain, yes), especially if you have to transfer. If I took the bus today on my thrift store adventures, I would have taken seven or eight buses. And I’d probably not be home yet. There’s also the problem of what to do to occupy your time. Focusing all your energy on avoiding eye contact gets a little boring. If you don’t get bus sick, you can read, if you remember to have something to read. You could play with or watch something on some fancy electronic thing that screams, “Jump me; I get off at the next stop.” Needless to say, sleeping will get you in a whole heap of trouble.
My suggestion to pass the time–whether it’s an hour commute or 5 minute ride up the hill your lazy ass doesn’t want to walk–is think back to the games you’ve played on road trips and have at ’em:
1. Fuck, Marry, or Kill? Feel free to to ask your seatmate (who is already at a special level of intimacy with you since he’s sitting mostly on your lap anyway) to play or just play inside your head. Guaranteed you’ll start to think of your travel companions in a whole new way. Feeling extra feisty? Take it to the next level and follow through. That’ll keep your hands full for a few stops.
2. I remember this from Harriet the Spy. It’s simple, but engaging. Eavesdrop on conversations, diatribes, rants, what have you. Guess what all the people (for ease of the game, most likely behind you) involved look like. After you can’t handle the curiosity anymore or fear they will make for the exit soon, slowly turn around for the big reveal. Award yourself points for ones you get correct. Bonus: if you know how to draw, sketch out what they look like. Heck, if you are even semi-accurate, you could try to sell it to them.
3. Punch Buggy. Every time you see a VW Bug, punch the person next to you. I’d suggest picking your punching bag carefully, possibly a small child, without friends around, on his way to chess club or something.
4. Make up a bingo card. Make a few extras in case you are feeling neighborly.
Some suggestions: sunflower seeds on the floor, a horrible stench worse than death, girl with asymmetrical haircut, the dude you see everyday when you commute but you never even once said hi, someone gets kicked off the bus, for SF folks–bus comes off the wire, inappropriate sexual act, appropriate sexual act, someone smoking weed, you smoking weed. If you need ideas, let me know. I can think of more.
Hopefully this start will help you fill the down times when the guy changing his bandages next to you exits and the guy who takes his place has thrown all his clothes out the window and is at a loss for what to toss next.