Rider’s Block: A Bus Story

Life getting you down? Hitting writer’s block? Need a little inspiration?

This last weekend my wife and I went to Anaheim for the NAMM Conference and for Disneyland. If you’ve never been to NAMM, or don’t know what I’m talking about, I would suggest googling it for a quick answer. This is not a blog about NAMM—although I may still write one.

This is not a blog about Disneyland, churros, or turkey legs either, though yes, I will probably write one soon. That new Cars ride in California Adventure sure is something special.

No, I have something far more interesting to write about. See, I rode the bus today. The city bus. Yeah, I washed my hands.


When you ride public transportation in a new area for the first time, as I did today, there’s one thing to learn and remember: On the city bus, everything is tolerated except for holding up the driver. In another words, ask quick questions, have your money ready, and mount the steed. It’s worth noting that every one is either crazy and filthy, a college student, or a combination of both. So if you don’t know the rates or exactly where the bus is going, keep confident and don’t stress over it — you’re doing fine.

The first gentlemen I talked to was a middle school teacher in Cayucos, CA. He was nice. We talked about guitar, which I teach, and art, which he teaches. There were brief discussions about the economy and the weather. His name was Eric.

Eric left about half way through my hour long ride somewhere in Morro Bay. Not long after, my new best friend and his dog jumped on board. He didn’t have any money and somehow convinced the driver to let him on.


First, he sat across from me. The lady next to him happened to be afraid of dogs and it became uncomfortable quick. “Is that a service animal?” she asked with a snarl.

“Yes,” the man answered, never turning his head towards her. He was dressed nice, an older man with a weathered linen, brown-suit and a fedora that left me jealous. His dog, Wiley, sat in his lap and was well behaved.

It’s hard to figure out some people on the bus. He had all the makings of a normal guy and if I hadn’t heard his fare finagling from the street, I would’ve assumed him as such.

“Is that a service animal,” the woman repeated the question with an even uglier snarl.

“I told you,” he said, raising his voice, “How many times do I need to tell you?” The bus fell silent. Finally, the old man looked at me. “That taken?” he asked, pointing at my seat sounding angry.photo copy

I shook my head, not wanting to offend him as he already displayed his temper. You hear stories about the bus, about people who are normal one second and then start throwing feces the next. I guess I was worried he was a loose cannon or something. Or that he would try to sell me socks filled with pidgin feathers. You never know.

Anyways, he stood up and moved towards me. He was large which was interesting; considering he had his dog, it was tight fit between the two of us.

“Some people,” he said, adjusting himself. We were practically leg to leg. Wiley sniffed me. “Where you goin’?” the old man asked.

“Back home,” I said, “in SLO.”

“You live there? Any open rooms? I’m looking for a place.” I look down at Wiley, he looked at me. I shake my head. “Figures…”


There was nothing magical that happened, or dangerous really. The bus is like that. It takes you out of your comfort zone just enough to make you notice. I ended up talking to the old man about writing, college, and Herman Hesse. He smelled a little weird, but overall, was nice enough. I never figured out if he was crazy.

Right now, he’s probably wondering the same about me.



  1. Haha nice adventure! To save money all last year allan rode the bus everyday to school. He has quite a few stories other than being asked if he wanted drugs almost everyday! Lots of special people in San Jose….

  2. I rode the bus quite frequently when I lived on Long Island, and some when I lived a few months in Rochester, NY. I must confess I usually listened to music on my headset and avoided unnecessary conversation. I do remember one day my MP3 wasn’t working and I was forced to listen to a middle-aged man hitting on a young teenager. She gave him her phone number. I wanted to intervene – but didn’t.

    1. indytony,

      Thanks for the comment. I am actually applying to go to school in Rochester. If I’m accepted, I’ll start in the Fall to finish my degree. You only lived there a few months, did you not like it?

      1. Actually, I liked it very much in Rochester, but I moved away to be near my family-of-origin for a time. As I contemplate my next career move, Rochester is high on my list for places I’d like to live. What school are you applying for?

      2. Glad to hear you enjoyed Rochester. That seems to be the general consensus. I’m applying for the University of Roch, also Syracuse and a couple others in the west

  3. Awesome read! You can really expect some actions inside the bus esp. when in California :D. My bus rides in Italy was not never eventful, surprisingly so. I used to ride the bus when I was in Fremont. I shall ride it to see I get a good experience like you did. The ending was very funny. 😆

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