Largely the Truth

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Rhythm is a (Bus) Dancer

20 Apr 2010  ·  by Brennan Storr  ·  Be the first to comment!

Tagged under driving bus public transit vancouver

The experience of public transit is very much like that of life itself; interminable right up until the end at which point it seems to have only just begun. Unless you're very lucky you're likely to face conditions that are crowded and unpleasant and the whole time you'll be forced to endure the company of a great many people you would rather have avoided.

But sometimes, much like life, you meet someone special, someone who makes you rethink your place in the world. Someone who makes you think, “No matter how much of an idiot I am, I will never be him.” On my recent trip to Vancouver I met just such a person. On that trip I met The Bus Dancer.

If you've made the trip from Victoria to Vancouver by transit you're familiar with how busy the bus stop is on the mainland side. Dozens of people will rush the curb, each jockeying for the pole position and each of them carrying backpacks big enough to hold the entire cast of Little People, Big World.

Despite the fare structure being posted in unambiguous English right next to the stop, few of the assembled will have any idea how much to pay the driver and fewer still will have the necessary amount in coin. Others brandish paper money at the driver, some demanding he accept it on the pretext that it is "legal tender". They then stomp off to the departure terminal for change; plotting as they go how, for this, Translink will receive a proper blogging.

Watching all this used to make me boil with impatience but I've now reached a point where I can take it all in with a sort of detached amusement. Instead of being irritated I'm able to admire the patience of the driver, who rarely betrays the fact that every year he asks Santa Claus for an Armalite and a box of ammunition to liven up days like these.

Once everyone is loaded the bus usually takes on an ambience not far removed from that of a cattle car and I try to distract myself by watching socially awkward young men strike up doomed conversations with pretty girls. On this occasion I had a particular interest in keeping my mind occupied because otherwise it was going to dwell on the fact that that I was currently crushed up against a heavily built man with what appeared to be knife scars on the back of his head. And then, like a gift from the gods, I saw the Bus Dancer. In faded jeans, a retro t-shirt and white earbud headphones, he looked like your garden-variety hipster. At least until the magic began.

It started with a barely perceptible bobbing of the head as whatever Ibiza jams he was listening to built up steam. As rhythm became a dancer so did he; eyes closed this mad free spirit tossed his head back and forth, the cords of his ear buds flying in the stifling air. There wasn't enough room for anyone to break wind without serious consequences yet The Bus Dancer vibed on, borne away on the wings of song, unaware of the terrestrial world and its discomforts.

Unaware, too, he was of his growing disfavour with the rest of the passengers or, more importantly, the proximity of his wildly bobbing head to the nose of the man with the knife scars. It was this disfavour that caused us all to wait with baited breath until such time as he was murdered. We did this rather than politely tap him on the shoulder and point out that he was, to put it lightly, tripping the light fantastic just short of Death’s antechamber. Then, finally, it happened.

The Bus Dancer's head brushed the nose of Mr. Stabwound Stoneface, who quickly clamped one meaty, calloused hand on the offender’s shoulder. The Bus Dancer’s eyes flew open and his initial reaction of
outrage was the victim of murder most foul when he saw who the intruding mitt belonged to. In an instant the Bus Dancer transformed into The Bus Statue, along the way nearly becoming The Bus Soiler of Pants.
After a hastily squeaked “sorry” The Bus Dancer stood stock still, with the same hollow-eyed look common to those who have stare death in its terrifying, tattooed face and lived to tell the tale.

I felt sorry for him in a way; like so many free spirits The Bus Dancer had been brought back down to earth by life’s harsh realities and while I’d begrudged him his soundless gyrations the world seemed just a little bit less without them. I decided to learn from his mistakes, to develop my own school of thought to help me be an original while picking my spots and keeping me from the emergency room. You’re free to borrow this if you like:

“Dance like no one is watching. Unless you're within headbutting distance of someone who looks like he could feed you your own legs. Then dance like someone who is in very real danger if they don't mind their space bubble. Or you could just not dance at all. Instead tell that pretty young thing standing at your other elbow about the time you performed a bicep curl.”

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