A lady called up the other day and said that riding the bus is more horrible than ever. "Give me the bill of particulars," I said. "Elbows in the ribs, feet stepped on, crowded as all get-out and when will they ever move to the back of the bus?" she said.
I didn't tell her so, but the lady's plaints are old plaints. How do I know? Because of a poem that Mildred Bishop of Silver Spring discovered the other day.
The poet was a coworker of Mildred's at the Pentagon. He produced his masterwork during World War II, when the Washington work force was required to ride Capital Transit buses because of tire and gasoline rationing.
The poem has no title. But it sure does have a point. Without further ado:
I've ridden roller coasters
Done stunt flying in a plane
I've often rode the rods beneath
A fast and speeding train.
I've mounted bucking broncos
Sailed boats o'er stormy seas
And slid down the sides of mountains
On a pair of flimsy skis.
These things no longer thrill me
They fill me with disgust
Since I've started riding regular
On a Capital Transit bus.
It's a rough and dangerous pastime
Where the weak ones have no show
It's a cross between a hockey game
And a Wild West rodeo.
They crowd you at the bus stop
And squeeze you in the door
Anyone who hesitates
They shove him on the floor.
They pack you in so tightly
That you think your ribs will crack
But the driver keeps on saying,
"Will you please move further back?"
Your senses start to reeling
But there's one thing you can hear
For the driver still is chanting,
"Will you please move to the rear?"
The bus is fairly bulging
But they still come through the door
People hanging from the ceiling
Others lying on the floor.
A feather in a woman's hat
Is tickling your nose
And some big 200-pounder
Is standing on your toes.
Your clothes are mussed and rumpled
You feel that you're a wreck
While some garlic-eating bozo
Is coughing on your neck.
You finally reach your stop
And the real fun then begins.
For it's twice as hard agittin' off
As it was agittin' in.
They finally shove you off at last
You've never been more beat.
You look around to find that you are
Ten blocks past your street.
You drag into the job at last
A half an hour late.
It takes the next eight hours
For a man to recuperate.
So, please, Mr. President
If you need me to win the war
Give me tires and gasoline
And let me use my car!
Overheard at the corner of 19th and M streets NW, one bicycle messenger to another:
"It's bad out here today, man. I almost got sideswiped twice on K Street by cars."
This from the kings of the sideswipe. Ask any pedestrian. If you can find one who doesn't bail out of the way the second he sees a bike messenger coming.
John Perkins of Northwest defines daydreaming as having a good time thinking what a good time you could be having if only you were having it.