I knew I said I was going to write about Justin Bieber or meeting Matthew Shirts in the last blog but I think that is rapidly becoming a lie. OK, Justin Bieber is a robot built by Music Execs and I stood next to Matthew Shirts long enough to get my picture taken at the Tarrafa Literature Festival last Sunday. Today I am going to talk about riding the public bus in the morning which has been a new treat for this old country boy. The only bus that I have ever rode on a regular basis was a School Bus, the last time was 1993.
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I have been taking the Onibus since the second week of school when waking up my girlfriend was becoming increasingly dangerous. Ana finally just told me you need to take the #29 to get there and the #42 to get home, here is some change, here are the door keys, let me sleep. SLEEP!!!! So there I was at the bus stop waiting with the other strap hangers for the right set of numbers to float in front of me.
This morning was one of those great mornings when the bus that you have waited for for 10 minutes only slows down enough for you to see that there is no fucking way you are getting aboard. I'm not saying it was anymore overcrowded then say a train in India during the 1950's because at least the onibus didn't have people with chickens riding on the roof. It did however have people stuck in the front door well, asses pressed against the front windscreen like a jar of people with wheels.
Even the bus driver wore a worried expression on his face as he slowed down enough in front of our bus-stop to show his reasoning for not stopping. Well shit, another 10 minutes surely another onibus will come through here, I mean I am standing on the Beach Avenue right, buses come through here all the time some with standing room even.
Finally a half packed bus did arrive and I clambered on board with my $R2.50 in hand ready to get through the turnstile and join my other onibus buddies in various positions of discomfort. "Buy the ticket, take the ride" is my motto for the onibus anyways. I know this is sounding like one huge complaint about the busing system but I don't think this is just typical of Santos or even Brazil. I am fairly certain people are packed into buses around the world during these hours of the morning with the exception of maybe New York City and Tokyo were they are packed into Subway Cars. This is just how the public transportation rush hour world works.
The morning onibus is a fun mix of riding a rickety rollercoaster and an elevator. You get the pleasure of thinking you are going to die with the experience of not making eye contact or talking with the other passengers. Buy the ticket, get crammed into a confined space with strangers, the driver could possibly have a death wish, be drunk or both much like a carnie at any festival. There is also the constant braking and acceleration, the honking at bikers, pedestrians, dogs, bums, other buses and on top of all this you can't see anything except maybe some buildings in your peripheral. Is the driver heading the right way down the street or straight into oncoming traffic? Are we parked on the railroad tracks? Being sucked into a flying saucer? T-Rex attacking us? Who knows all I can see in front of me is a fat woman with some perm farm going on on top and I just know she will get out before me crushing my crotch into either the handrail or the shoulder that is in front of me as she hustles toward the door. Or perhaps she will barricade the aisle when I need to get off the bus. I can't speak Portuguese elegantly enough to ask her to PLEASE (por favor) move her fat ass (bunda) out of the way because I wanna get outta here, get to the house (casa) and drink a coke (coke).