Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The rain, the bus, the rain

the good thing about riding the bus instead of a bike is i get to catch up on my reading. And since the list of books i intend to read this year also has to compete with the books i didn't get around to last year and the year before that (and before that), the rain is definitely a good thing.

at least, this is what i tell myself in light of not being able to ride due to the minor monsoon blessing Santa Cruz these past few days. The Townie pulled a flat that I couldn't fix cuz' the tires are older than me and now aren't fully staying on the rim; and my attempts to fit the Bridgestone with fenders has yielded about as much success as the Copenhagen climate talks; and honestly, i'm not crazy enough to take on these storms.

so i'm on the bus, it is pouring outside. we reach a stop by the boardwalk and a man steps inside, he starts to try to explain to the driver that he doesn't have any money but...well, but what are you gonna say dude? the driver simply gestures for him to leave. it is a sad sight as he says thanks, turns around, mumbles something bitterly and goes back out into the heavy rain.

did i mention the man looked like your standard bro/possible methhead? i say that because when it comes to men in their twenties in Santa Cruz, there are two types - the UCSC college transplants (often called "trannies" by the "locals") and the east side homegrown "local" bros (i call them cream of wheat cracka-ass crackas but that phrase hasn't caught on) - both tend to be white, but the former are more middle-class while the latter are more of the blue-collar persuasion.

so i'm on the bus, next day, same driver, and it's pouring outside. we reach a stop with a lot of UCSC students, one dude gets on - whiteboy w/ dreads, very student-looking, he says something to the driver which appears to be something like, "i forgot my bus pass..." (UCSC students all have bus passes) the driver gestures for him to sit down.

maybe it was just my imagination.

i am after all at the back of the bus and can't hear exactly what's being said, nor did i actually see him with or without a bus pass - i am only surmising from the body language between the student and the driver. but at least half of communication is body language and tone of voice and it really appeared like the student just got a free ride, so to speak.

truth is, i see shit like this all the time - the coeds w/ the perky tits rarely have a problem hitching a ride or giving the "oops, i forgot my pass" line to drivers. this is not to say they're lying and shouldn't be allowed on, nor is it to say women get more breaks than men, it's just instructive to witness the effects of a class-based hierarchical culture in action.

in Santa Cruz, the homeless, elderly, immigrant working class moms, disabled and occasional addicts will forever be regulated to the bus system while the students who ride are simply putting in their 4 years before returning to the iron-cocoons from whence they came. and yes, i know it's more complicated than that - but only by a few degrees.

i recall that one time where a ucsc student attempting to get on the bus was short on change but had the wherewithal to quickly turn to the other riders and hustle it up just before the driver threatened to kick him off. the bro on the other hand didn't stand a chance, his body language was one of defeat as he got on; would we have fronted him the money if he'd asked? we'll never know.

i think of this as i sit in a bus, and the rain pours all over Santa Cruz. i put my head down and keep reading.

1 comment:

Yokota Fritz said...

I ride the bus everyday. I've forgotten my pass on occasion. The driver lets me on, mostly because he or she recognizes me.

Maybe my sample size is a little larger, but I've seen the driver let all types on board w/o fare. I think S/C Metro drivers are the most casual of any transit operator I've seen. If a guy (or gal) needs change for fare, the people at the bus stop pretty frequently contribute if he asks, no matter the appearance or smell. It's not horribly unusual for the driver to let a dog onboard. The usual circumstance is a drifter (dreds, a little smelly maybe, backpack or garbage sack) and what he claims is his "service animal." Obvious lie, but the driver waves him on.