I ride the bus to work, and I really enjoy it. I get to read, or listen to music, all the while not having to worry about idiots in traffic. It doesn’t really take any longer than driving myself did, and with gas prices these days it’s a hell of a lot cheaper. At last tally, I’m saving myself over $200 a month by riding the bus. But there is one thing that bothers me…
I get on the bus as the main transit center, which means the bus is empty or near empty when I get on. Now, traditional society dictates that since all seats on the bus are in pairs, if you get on the bus and there is an open pair, you sit there before sitting next to someone else. Women are allowed a bit of leeway, it’s okay if they sit next to another woman instead of taking one of an open pair if she doesn’t want to risk sitting next to some random man later on. As the bus drives, we pick up more people, and always by the time we reach the transfer station to the train, the bus is full.
In the city of Atlanta, we have a large population of blacks and hispanics. So, its not unreasonable to believe that often I’m the only white guy on the bus. Sometimes there are a couple of white women, but not always. As a white guy, I also have a shaved head. My hair line is receeding, and I look awful when I grow my hair out, so I shave it because it looks better. I have a goatee. So, I’m a white guy with a shaved head and a goatee. I’m also a nice guy… I’ve got no visible tatoos, no scars, and I wear business casual clothes (polo shirt and khaki pants most days). I sit and read my book (science fiction, fantasy, classic literature, mysteries, the odd other book here and there) or I have my headphones on listening to MP3s from by PDA phone. Every single day, the seat next to me is the last one to get filled.
I don’t know what’s up… should I feel slighted? Discriminated against? I don’t stink, I’ve asked. And I’m not wearing any internationally recognized symbols of hatred. I’m just a guy reading a book and/or listening to music. And yet, once it gets down to the last seat available, the next person to get on the bus will look around, scanning the entire bus looking for a chance hidden seat, before finally fixing their face in a downtrodden look of defeat and resign themselves to being forced to sit next to me.
I just don’t get it.