Psychology of Bus Riding Part Four–How not to Sit Next to the Weirdo

I’ve found the perfect picture for the subject of this post. As I’ve said before just search the internet and you will probably find what your looking for.

I will have more about this picture later but as I stated in the last “Psychology of Bus Riding” post you can ask Yahoo anything and there will be answers. This one asks the question, “Why are there so many weirdos on the city bus?” Not many good answers there. How about this one with the title, “Have you ever been the weirdo on the bus?” There are a few good answers to that question like this one, “Oh i make sure i am, then no-one sits next to me :)”. That answer is one way to avoid sitting next to a weirdo.

So how would you avoid sitting next to this weirdo.

 Look at this guy. Strange vest, who knows what could be in it. What’s with the binoculars? Must be some pervert looking in windows. What’s in that case around his waist (not shown)? Why is one leg of his pants tied up? Who wears gloves these days? My goodness he just rode up on a bike, probably smells. Always mumbling about birds. Don’t want to sit next to him–a weirdo!

Yes-I am a Mendocino Coast weirdo but everyone on the coast knows me now. Bus drivers and passengers are asking me bird questions. They point out the geese and Great Blue Herons on the school grounds as we go by. They have bird lists and now carry their binoculars with them when walking the Haul Rd. Passengers now call me that “bird” guy. Once when I lost my binocular strap on the bus I got it back with a note, “please give back to our birding friend”. The people on the coast know who I am but I wonder what people in Ukiah are thinking when I travel over there. When I walk through Home Depot or a Kohls in this outfit what are people thinking?

This post titled, “Today’s collection of creeps and weirdos on the bus” talks about the interesting people he rode the bus with. “This older man is Joe Jordan, an atmospheric scientist retired from NASA Ames Research Center and now director of the Sky Power Institute in Santa Cruz. He was dressed about like he was for this TEDx presentation he gave in 2011…Karen studies transnational rituals as a cultural anthropologist at San Jose State University, where she teaches a class on the globalization of culture.” He end the post with this statement, “Did you meet anybody interesting on your drive to work today?” 

This post, “Giving thanks for public transit — weirdos and all” speaks of the joys of public transportation. 
I have come to believe that your feelings about bus riding are a state of where your mind is. Don’t get me wrong. There are weirdos who sometimes ride the bus. So how do we avoid sitting next to them. Esther Kim, from Yale University published a paper called, “Nonsocial Transient Behavior: Social Disengagement on the Greyhound Bus.” The actual paper is locked up behind academic walls but it created enough impact to be written about on numerous websites. Esther Kim rode the Greyhound bus for over three years researching her paper. “We live in a world of strangers, where life in public spaces feels increasingly anonymous,” said Kim. “However, avoiding other people actually requires quite a lot of effort and this is especially true in confined spaces like public transport.” 
“Kim found that the biggest unspoken rule of bus travel is that you shouldn’t sit next to someone else if other seats in the bus are available. As the passengers said, “It makes you look weird”.
When all the rows are full and more passengers get on the bus, the seated passengers begin a performance to avert anyone from sitting in the empty seat next to them.”
The best advice from Kim’s fellow passengers was:
•    Avoid eye contact with other people
•    Lean against the window and stretch out your legs
•    Place a large bag on the empty seat
•    Sit on the aisle seat and turn on your iPod so you can pretend you can’t hear people asking for the window seat.
•    Place several items on the spare seat so it’s not worth the passenger’s time waiting for you to move them.
•    Look out the window with a blank stare to look crazy
•    Pretend to be asleep
•    Put your coat on the seat to make it appear already taken
•    If all else fails, lie and say the seat has been taken by someone else

“This all changes however when it is announced that the bus will be full so all seats should be made available,” Kim observed. “The objective changes, from sitting alone to sitting next to a ‘normal’ person.”
 When commuters discovered someone had to sit next them, race, class, gender and other characteristics were not major concerns, Kim determined. Everyone just wanted to stay clear of the ‘crazy person.’
“One rider told me the objective is just ‘getting through the ride’, and that I should avoid fat people who may sweat more and so may be more likely to smell,” said Kim. “Motivating this nonsocial behavior is the fact that one’s own comfort level is the rider’s key concern, rather than the backgrounds of fellow passengers.”
You can read this blog by Bilbo to see what he has to say about, “The Psychology of Bus Seat Selection.” Pity the attractive women.
I remember my first MTA bus ride. I was coming back from visiting my ill mother. The CC Rider had left the bus stop in Ukiah when the driver noticed a woman running to get on the bus. The bus was almost full and this woman sat down next to me. She was going to Willits. She immediately had to tell me about her drunken and abusive husband and how their daughter had been taken away by Social Services. She had been visiting her daughter and hoped to get her back soon. When she reached into her purse for a picture of her she looked at me and said that I just couldn’t be interested in her story. I just smiled and said that I was a captive audience and looked at the picture of her pretty daughter. She got off in Willits 30 minutes later.

Let’s get back to the first picture. The complete picture is this.

It was part of a GM Canada car ad back in 2003. This blog states, “General Motors Canada has pulled an ad campaign suggesting that transit buses are full of “creeps and weirdos.” 

An ad for a Chevy Cavalier that appeared in the The Georgia Straight, a Vancouver weekly magazine, has generated a firestorm of complaints. See the original ad here: citizens “noticed that the ads promoted GM’s support for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic bid — which favours effective and environmentally sustainable transportation like buses.”

Watch out for those weirdos all around us. The last installment of The Psychology of Bus Riding will be on bus riding etiquette. Some of what you just read will be disputed. I will also have a few pet peeves to discuss.

This is an update. I forgot to add this video from the Drastics called “Weirdos on the Bus”. I don’t know what they’re singing  but it seems to fit the theme of this post. Enjoy!






6 thoughts on “Psychology of Bus Riding Part Four–How not to Sit Next to the Weirdo

  1. You are my favorite kind of weirdo, Richard. And I will join that club any day! Wait, I think I am already a member… Bird Brains ‘R Us.

  2. Thanks for the link to my own Creeps and Weirdos post, Rich. I’m perusing your archives and love what I see!

    The bus I routinely ride is usually full and the avoidance behavior you list is easy to spot. I’ll usually just take an easily available seat, but if I’m feeling ornery I’ll make a point of sitting next to the person with the most obvious “DON’T SIT BY ME!” body language.

    I’m looking forward to your bus etiquette post.

  3. Psychology of Bus Riding Part Five–Bus Riding Etiquette – greenbirdingmendo

  4. Wrap Up 3–The Blog – greenbirdingmendo

  5. Wrap Up 2014 – greenbirdingmendo

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