Civility on the bus line – or lack thereof

Today I went all wild and crazy and rode a different route into the UA. I took the bus that drops riders at the UA Mall. It is about a half-mile walk from there to my office, and so, race-walking to make it in my door by 8 a.m. has the added benefit of a little exercise. The line goes from the Tohono Transit Center down Campbell and then into the UA Mall. It got me there at 7:48 a.m., about three minutes later than the posted time, but five minutes earlier than the Route 6 has been getting me to Euclid and University ever since the little munchkins returned to the city en masse.

However, riding that sucker home would have necessitated me leaving the office about 15 minutes early and walking in full sun twice as far as my half-shaded 6 minute walk to the Route 6. Still, in a concession to the reality of Tucson’s crowded streets and inability (or unwillingness, lack of leadership, lack of funds, name your excuse) to create bus lanes or give street light priority to public transit, I left work at 4:50 p.m. to get to the Route 6 stop by 4:56, two minutes before the “early” 5 p.m. bus is expected (as opposed to the late-and-getting-later 5:08 bus that I normally before last week’s fiasco). I knew it would be late, but I also guessed (correctly) that I would arrive at the transit center before the final Express shot up toward Oro Valley.

(An aside: Perhaps the city could use some of the stolen parking meter funds for bus lanes.)

The bus arrived at 5:04 p.m. and 10 people piled onto an already pretty packed bus. I took a seat by a young kid trying his best to look tough while also keeping his pants from falling off and said hello. He said hi back, and later, when getting off, said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” which showed he was way more polite than the next folks I’m about to tell you about.

Just north of Speedway, a couple in their late-20s boarded with a days-old infant in a car seat, a pre-schooler and a very large stroller. (Question: What on earth ever happened to umbrella strollers?

A pretty basic fold-and-go umbrella stroller.

Why do parents feel the need to have SUV strollers?)

Anyway, they stood in the aisle for a second until, kindly, a guy in his mid-40s stood and offered his seat to the mom. She took it and then, so sweetly, yelled at her preschooler, “Get your ass over here.” (Doesn’t it just warm your heart to see effective parenting?)

Meanwhile, the stroller was unstable in the aisle and a man standing near the door reached out to steady it, to which the mom, all attitude and unnecessary defensive anger-mouth, said, “That bothering you?” The guy started to explain that he was just trying to help when the woman looked over at another passenger who was – along with most everyone else on the bus was by this time – staring at her.

“Something funny, buster?” she snapped. “Just keep it up and my boyfriend will beat the s*** out of you.” Boyfriend, on cue, puffed his chest and commanded the older gentleman to look out the window.

Now, this is the point at which I would normally have jumped in with my teacher voice and demanded a little civility. But I didn’t. The boyfriend was directly in front of me, and he had a stroller as a weapon. No one else was saying anything, and I didn’t want to make things worse. So I sat there.

And herein lies the problem. Uncivil (and, I would argue, ignorant, which is not the same as uneducated) people make others miserable in a public space and the civil (and, perhaps, scared) majority doesn’t say or do anything. Sigh.

I don’t know if that situation will present itself again, but if it does, I hope I can conjure up the energy and confidence to speak up because, really, we all just need to chill a little.

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