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The bigot on the bus

Vancouver bus in a photograph from the creative commons by Tom Harpel 

Public transit is full of people that are strange and not like you. 99.99999% of the people traveling during daylight hours are simply that, strange and different, not dangerous. Probably much less dangerous than many of the drivers you compete with on the road each morning.

There are several sub-types of the fearful that generally hate the idea of giving up their cars. While this list is by no means exhaustive, the most common are old people afraid of young people, “sane” people afraid of “crazy” people, and racists.  

Every once in a while, one of these types has some sort of misfortune and for whatever reason ends up on the bus. Usually the person will just grin, bear it, and have a sad tale of woe to share with their friends later. 

But every once in a very, very long while,  someone will feel the need to speak up about the injustice of having to ride the bus with people they don’t want to be around. My experience tells me that these people are almost exclusively racists. The joy of last week was the bigot on my bus who let his freak flag fly and Vancouver’s (and Canada’s) diversity stopped him in his tracks. 

The man in question was seated near the back of the bus, behind three young Asian women. They appeared to be talking only to each other when the racist in question yelled loudly, 

“Why don’t you go back where you came from, you f**cking gooks?!” 

I heard someone gasp, and I was just slack-jawed in shock, when one of the young Asian women in this group spoke in a clear, unaccented, Canadian voice,

“You mean Calgary?” 

Her timing was so perfect I don’t think this was the first time she’d stopped some mental midget with her one liner. I snickered. So did a couple of other people. You’d think that the bus bigot would have stopped there, but I don’t think he could help himself. He just had to go on, and obviously thought he could get another white person to agree with him, to justify his hate. He turned to the Caucasian man sitting next to him and said, 

“C’mon buddy, aren’t you sick of these people coming and taking over our country?” 

The Caucasian man replied, in a clear Australian voice, 

“I think you’re barking up the wrong tree. Buddy.” 

At the next stop the Bus Bigot got off. He could take no more of the giggles and sneers that broke out when he was foiled by Canada’s Cultural Mosaic. 

The lesson here is that the world is full of people not like you, and you better suck it up, princess, if you think you’re going to get anywhere with fear like that. Oh, and an Asian face isn’t always an immigrant and a Caucasian face isn’t always a Canadian, especially in Vancouver. The third lesson is bigots should buy cars and not associate with society at large.  

As a self-identified misanthrope,  I understand the angst about dealing with people you don’t want to. Everyday, I encounter people who don’t have even the basic understanding of rush hour bus riding etiquette, or know where they’re going, or complain loudly that they’re going to be late because they’re on the damn bus and not driving.

Being a professional bus rider has also taught me a lot about people. The rudest and most likely to behave selfishly are the best dressed people on the bus or train. The least aware of what is going on around them and inadvertently rude are people listening to iPods. Texters are a close second. The kindest are often teenagers and immigrants. 

The fact is we’re all just people. We all make mistakes, do stupid things and don’t always know where we are going. We all come into contact with people who rub us the wrong way or make us uncomfortable. But if your fear is so strong that it leads you to hateful outbursts, you aren’t going to deal well with being a passenger. I don’t think you’re going to deal well with maintaining employment, friendships, or moving out of your mom’s basement either.

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