Posted by: mamamamahoney | August 22, 2008

What’s Your Commuter Type?

For the past 10 years, I’ve been commuting to work via public transportation.  With my first job, I took the train into (lovely) downtown Newark, NJ.  Now, I take the bus into Port Authority (NYC).  After many horrible seatmate experiences, I’ve come to the conclusion that public transportation should be the feeding ground for Sociology studies.  How has science not yet discovered this social nightmare?  There are specific types of people on public transportation – though the majority of my observations come from the close quarters on the (114) bus.  Detailed below are some of the horrors that have graced my presence (and far too much of my personal space).

  • The Sleeper – This is the person who clearly must be an insomniac because they sleep like a rock on the bus, generally on my shoulder.  No amount of coughing or bodily adjustment will get them to move (or wake up).  Note to all Sleepers – that pinching is not a dream.  It is my little way of telling you to get your fat head off of my body and out of my personal space.
  • The Doser (not to be confused with the Sleeper) – This is the person who’s head wobbles up, down, left, right and generally into the window or my shoulder.  The difference from the Sleeper – this person is polite enough to realize it and moves with lightning speed and (sometimes) apologizes.
  • The Middle Man – This is the prick who sits directly in the middle of the 2 seater row.  This person figures that no one is going to ask him to move.  And generally he is right.  His seat is usually the last to be filled (aside from the 5 seater row in the back).
  • The Faker – This is the person that sits with all of their crap on the seat attempting to look like they are sleeping (or daydreaming or listening to their Ipod).  You see me coming – I know you do (because when I play the faker, I see you coming!).  I know you can’t fall asleep in the 15 seconds that it took me to board the bus (unless maybe you are the Sleeper).  Stop praying to the outside gods that no one will sit next to you.  There are only 49 seats on the bus and at rush hour, they are mostly, if not all filled.  And did I mention that I refuse to wait for another bus while your backpack enjoys a nice ride home?
  • The Hot Dog Vendor – This is the person that squishes me in so tight against the wall that by the time I get to my stop I have the seat handle mark embedded in my waist.  Now, let’s be honest – public transportation was not designed for today’s asses – that is evidenced by the dip in the subway seats that barely fits my 2 year old son’s ass let alone mine.  Nonetheless, I always try (and generally succeed with the exception of the days that I am the Doser!) to keep my rather large ass on my side of the seat (if only everyone else would do the same!) And worst of all, the hot dog vendors are not usually big boned people.  They are just inconsiderate f*cks.
  • The Backseat Bully – NJ Transit buses have a 5 seat backseat row.  It is the most miserable seat on the bus.  Firstly, for someone short like me, the non-reclining seats sit all funky in my back.  Secondly, the seats in this row seem even smaller than the regular 2 seat rows.  Since most of the time the bus fills up, this row, too is full.  The fifth person generally is the Backseat Bully or invokes someone else to become the Backseat Bully.  They sit down and with a quick left-right motion of their ass, declaring their final seat territory.  This forces the entire row to adjust and generally forces the people in the 2 and 4 seat positions to become Hot Dog Vendors.  I hate this seat.  Unless I am in a mad rush to get home, this is the ONLY time I will wait for the next bus.  Once I see that people counter hit 40, I count how many people are in front of me.  If is more than 4, I waiting for the next one because there is no way in hell I’m sitting in that 5 seater.

I’m sure there are other “types” that I will encounter, but these few are the most frequent offenders.  There are other things I hate about the commute such as the Nextel Walkie Talkies (which I personally think should replace the boom box radio in the big NO symbol on the front of the bus – who the hell carries a big ass ghetto boom box anymore?), but generally I think of public transportation as something great.  I can grab a few extra winks, read a magazine or listen to some music – things I don’t have much free time to enjoy with the 2 kids.  I’ve also noticed that foreigners seem to be much better seatmates than Americans.  In most other countries, public transportation is not looked down upon in the same manner it is here in America (as a kid we were always thought to believe that only poor people with no cars took the bus).  So, when I’m entering the bus and there are no empty 2 seaters, I’m looking for Mr. or Mrs. Immigrant – because generally they will help provide me with a pleasant commuting experience that I desire and sometimes even wish me a “Good Day!”



  1. omg I’m dying … you are SO on target with these!! HAHAAA I love “the Sleeper” – hilarious!

  2. Whether NJ Transit, or the CTA in Chicago, you hit it right on. I am so lucky each day that I get to spend time on a bus and a train! Right around the time they get rid of Nextel’s, they should also put volume limits on people’s iPods. If you’re wearing the headphones, it shouldn’t sound like I just turned on the radio!

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