Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Music on the Bus Goes Boom! Boom! Boom!

Radio Ga Ga? I asked Señor Gatito Gringo. Yup, he nodded.

It's not too often that you find your bus driver singing Queen tunes while driving his bus but then again, Radio Ga Ga had just finished playing on the radio. That would be the in-bus radio - for city buses in La Línea are equipped with radios, and use them they do. Often at a volume which causes my ears to bleed.

Buses (or at least the ones in La Línea), if you will forgive the pun, are a bit of a trip. And because Señor G.G. and I are usually 3 decades younger than the average rider, these junkets to and from work have become a great source of amusement. Except for the ear bleeding.

A quick word about the buses: they have very few seats - the norm is 16 on the entire bus. I counted. In the middle of the bus, where you would except to find, say seats, is a wide open space where people leave their handcarts and baby strollers completely unattended so they (their handcarts and baby strollers) can roll back and forth as the bus lurches around corners.

Nor are they terribly environmentally friendly for every fare is acknowledged by a freshly printed ticket. In theory you can be asked at any time to show your ticket and if you fail to produce one, you will be fined € 5. Not such an exorbitant fine since the price of a ticket is 90 cents. Nonetheless, in the 4 short weeks I've been here, I've accumulated enough tickets to wallpaper a small bungalow. My fellow passengers, who have been riding the La Línea bus much longer than I, and who have clearly run out of small bungalows to wallpaper, have elected to toss their tickets on the bus floor. The buses' wastepaper baskets are sadly ignored.

Because La Línea is a fairly small city and perhaps because its seniors are by nature ornery you can't teach old dogs new tricks, and in spite of signs advising passengers to exit by the rear door, passengers routinely deboard the bus from the front, gumming things up for those of us trying to get on.

Because La Línea is a fairly small city and perhaps because its seniors are by nature ornery you can't teach old dogs new tricks , exact change is not a requirement. Bus drivers not only make change but the change box sits in plain view for all to steal from admire. Even if they brought an exact change policy into effect, it would be ignored. Just like the "all passengers must exit from the rear of the bus sign".

Because La Línea is a fairly small city, bus drivers know their passengers. Conversations are normally struck up during the course of the trip and, because this is Spain, most people engage in conversation with the driver from as many seats away from him as possible. It is not uncommon for someone in the back of the bus to conduct a lengthy chin wag with the driver. How do they do it? you ask. They yell. Quite simply, Spaniards are loud people. Two people sitting beside each other will calmly have a conversation at deafening volumes. Why? Because Spaniards are loud.

Because La Línea is a fairly small city and bus drivers know their passengers, it is not necessary to ring the bell to signal your intended point of departure. The driver knows where you get off and will just pull over. This morning, our driver - who was listening to the news rather than Queen - pulled over and shouted at the man behind us, something to the effect of are you getting off or what?

Because La Línea is a fairly small city and bus drivers know their passengers, it is not necessary to ring the bell to signal your intended point of departure at a designated bus stop. It is not considered inappropriate behaviour to shout out a request. Drivers will cheerfully pull over anywhere.

Because La Línea is a fairly small city and bus drivers know their passengers, it is not necessary to ring the bell to signal your intended point of departure at a designated bus stop on your side of the street. Bus drivers will happily pull over at stops that mirror those across the street.

Because La Línea is a fairly small city and passengers know their bus drivers, certain conduct is considered acceptable. Bus drivers, who are already behind schedule, are not criticized for going for a coffee while we wait. Yesterday afternoon, our Radio Ga Ga driver pulled over mid-route at a lottery kiosk to buy a lottery ticket. Did anyone say anything? Of course not. Besides, if they did it would have been something like, Pepe, will you pick one up for me too? No, not that one - the shamrock scratch ticket!

5 comments:

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