Wednesday I made my weekly trip to Fairway-on-the-Hudson. To get there I take the M4 bus on the corner of 152nd Street and Broadway, south side of the street.
The M5 limited also stops there, but the M5 makes a right turn at 135th Street and goes down Riverside Drive from there, and Fairway is on 133rd Street.
I checked the Bustime App on my phone and it said the next M4 would arrive in 7 minutes. I waited patiently, and more people joined me at the bus stop.
There is a hill just north of the bus stop, so you can’t see the approaching buses until they are a block away, the bus suddenly pops up over the hill and pulls up at the stop providing it doesn’t catch the light.
Right on time, a bus appeared at the crest of the hill, except it wasn’t the M4. It was an M5. I decided to take it and walk the extra 2 blocks; it was too cold to wait for the M4.
The bus pulled up to the stop, and just as I was about to get on, an M4 crested the hill and pulled up right behind the M5, but way out in the middle of the slush covered street. I and a few others scurried over to the M4, but as I reached the end of the idling M5 a woman who’d gotten there first was yelling,
“Over there? We gotta go over there?” Apparently the driver of the M4 was pointing to the bus stop, opting to wait for the M5 to pull out so the M4 could pull in to the proper spot. We all scurried back to the right place, and the M5 pulled away.
The woman who had shouted at the bus driver was on a new tack.
“What the fuck do they think we are? Over there! Why we gotta go over there?” She sounded angry and strident, so I let her get on the bus before me.
She wasn’t even fully on the bus before she unleashed a stream of invective at the driver.
“What the fuck is wrong with you? You think I’m some kind of piece of shit, having to run over here?” It continued even after she paid her fare and made her way to a seat in the middle of the bus.
The driver had done the right thing not to open the doors in the middle of the street. It’s just not safe, and a driver can get written up if a supervisor had seen that. She’d only pulled the bus up because she wanted to beat the light.
I have to mention that both the driver and the shouting woman were both middle aged black women.
One of the things I’ve noticed riding buses in this city is the sense of community that most black folks share in public, last mother’s day I was riding a bus in Crown Heights and almost every black woman of a certain age who got on the bus wished all the other women a happy mother’s day. It made me feel good to be human.
But the ride to Fairway on Wednesday was nothing but a gut wrenching, cringe-worthy 18 block ride to 135th Street. The woman who felt she’d been slighted did not let up on her harangue for the entire ride. She used every curse word she knew and criticized every inch of the driver’s anatomy. I always wonder why women use body criticism as a weapon. More often than not women describe romantic rivals as “ugly,” even though to me they both look about the same. Men generally don’t comment on another’s looks, they go more for strength or intelligence.
Clearly this woman had some issues. Having to walk a few extra feet is no reason to go on such a tirade, but she did it.
Any job where one has to deal with the public at large is a hard one, especially in this town. I sold shoes for a number of years and I can tell you stories about dealing with crazy people.
I really felt for the driver, and I was going to do what I always do when I get off a bus, say thank you. I always smile and greet the driver when I get on as well.
Sometimes they smile back and say hello. Some drivers just grunt, others totally ignore me and some even scowl. But I just do what I need to do and go find a seat or a place to stand. And I say thank you getting off, if I use the front door.
Sometimes drivers switch at 135th Street, there is a big depot in 133rd Street.
This was the case Wednesday, and the driver took all of her belongings and left the bus as the new driver got on. I guessed I wasn’t going to be saying thank you to her.
There was another woman on the bus, in a school crossing guard’s uniform. She stood near the driver and spoke to her quietly; I guess she rode the bus every day and they knew each other. She also got off at 135th, and as did she loudly wished the angry woman a nice day.
“Have a nice day,” she said, with as much sarcasm as she could muster.
“Fuck you too, bitch. Mind your own fucking business.”
It’s funny how different “have a nice day” sounds with the right spin. Ah, New York.