We’d like to introduce you, dear reader, to a fresh new voice in metropolitan-area commuter bloggery. Once dubbed “one of the most hilarious writers about sports ever” by a mid-level media critic (we’re totally serious), Jimmy Sneakers puts pen to paper for fleeting escapes from a humdrum workaday life selling Webcasts.
The Pee-ples’ Limousine
I have a peculiar compulsion, one that would seem to be in unfettered opposition to the notion of fast-paced urban living. Given the choice between the bus and the subway, I will often choose the bus.
Surface transit is somewhat more civilized and, despite its tortoise’s pace, it has its own benefits. It commonly will get you closer to your final destination. The seats are roomier and several even allow a fair amount of personal space. In case of emergency, it can be rerouted. It is closer to fulfilling Thomas Moore’s prophetically Utopian ideals of commuting, but of course, nothing is perfect.
Here we come to a recent trip on the M1.
The M1 is one of Manhattan’s more interesting bus lines. It begins well up in Harlem, passing the entire length, and part of the width, of Central Park, crawling past some of the most expensive commercial and residential real estate in the world. At 40th St., it becomes the only NYCTA bus to travel down Park Ave., sliding over to Broadway at Union Square, and ending up at Battery Park. It shuttles the rich, the poor and the stupid (yours truly in that last category).
After dropping my son off at his elementary school where he learns readin’, writin’, and proper Catholic doctrine as established during the third Plenary Council of Baltimore, I headed for the bus. The Limited, with its joyous stop-skipping and thick-legged ballet steps down the lower Broadway bus lane, arrived, typically un-crowded, and far more elegant then the nearby 6 train.
I chose a seat in the back, near two women: one a professional type and the other looking like she’d experienced some solidly joyless times. The latter had a small shopping bag, somewhat soiled and re-enforced with packing tape, filled with assorted papers, as soiled as the bag. In her hand, she held a Bible, heavily dog-eared, the kind that would be swung around by a seersucker-clad revivalist in a hot tent. The only other truly marked characteristic was a solid odor of urine that didn’t seem to be coming from the business type to the left of me. When she leaned forward to flip through the bag of important soiled papers, it appeared as though the Faithful had made good use of three copies of AM New York, saving the seat from a good soaking and wicking away some excess liquid from her dark raincoat.
Granted, this was not the most pleasant way to start the day, but it also gave me some sociological confidence in this town.
This moistened fundament, juxtaposed with the career gal type’s obvious disgust, reminded me that the egalitarian nature of public transportation is alive and well above ground too. There are no billionaire mayors or spoiled food-carting gentlemen representing highly dubious homeless organizations. But there are still these moments of pure social equality, where the class system seems to be a moot point.