The unlikeliness of buses

This is another of those things that I feel compelled to write just because I have a blog. It has nothing to do with music. You should probably ignore it.

As I crossed our main drag at dusk today, I stopped on the white line to let a muddy yellow and white city bus groan by. Beside the door on the other side, I knew, the capacity was recorded —  Seats 39.

Four people sat scattered about inside.

What rolled over me (in place of the next car in the  lane I was crossing) was a chest-filling sense of unlikeliness. How have our lives evolved so that we use an eleven ton box on wheels to carry four people?

A Martian stopping by for a visit might wonder, are these the elite? Do the empty seats symbolize privilege? What in the name of Valentine Michael Smith* is going on here.

I know the answers of course, and I lay them out here to impress (maybe my second grade teacher. I don’t expect them to impress you):

  1. The buses carry many more people over the course of the day.
  2. These people are decidedly NOT the elite.
  3. The buses have to carry the few at times to make the service work so that they are there to carry the many (and the many are there to be carried).
  4. This is worth doing because even though these huge machines use  deranged amounts of energy, and their carbon paw prints are the size of mastodons’ . . .
  5. . . . they use less energy and pollute less per person than automobiles do.

But this just moves the question along. My Martian guest would then be inspired to ask about the unlikeliness of automobiles. There, before and behind and beside the bus are smaller boxes, each using about two tons of steel, each gulping gas, moving one person someplace.

Wait! No! There’s one with two people.

* A super-nerdy reference to Robert A. Heinlein’s novel Stranger in a Strange Land, about Martians among other things.


About charles thiesen

I live in Dorchester, MA with five housemates and a cat named Chat Cousteau. I write novels and ride a recumbent bike, among other things.
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5 Responses to The unlikeliness of buses

  1. John Owens says:

    The idea that aliens might think bus travel is an elite mode of transportation is short-story-worthy.

  2. Jack Liesner says:

    What other things were the Martians among?

    (sorry Charles)

    • ravishd says:

      Jack! Never apologize to me for a pun. (For one thing, it would imply that I should do the same.) I had to read the whole damned post though to see what the f*ck you were talking about.

      Oh, yeah, Martians among canals. How’s that?

      Oh, and thanks for coming by.

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