Saturday, January 21, 2006

Riding the Bus With My Alligator

I only ever submitted a portion of this (the dialogue part, which was rejected), but I like the piece in its entirety, so here it is:

Every day I ride the Metro to work. The Metro is the DC area's subway system, and there is a station one mile from my house. This presents me with two options: (1) walk 20-25 minutes, or (2) ride the bus for five seven minutes. More often than not, I find myself taking the bus because I am lazy. I know many people say that they're lazy, but consider my upbringing: I was abandoned at four months old, and found and raised by a pack of wild couches. So, I am very lazy. When given a healthy alternative to something (anything) I run from it, except that involves running, so I mosey from it. (One exception to this is salad. I like a good salad. But enough about me...)

Where was I? Yes. The bus. I should also mention that I live a block from the bus stop. How sweet is that? I've noticed, though, that our popular culture takes a rather dim view of public transportation. In movies, buses are always portrayed as a cultural melting pot of last resort (by which I mean the contents of the pot are melting, not a pot that is, itself, melting). Whenever a movie or TV show's protagonist rides the bus, it is because something horrible has happened (a car broke down, a wife committed adultery, aliens have replaced the nation's highway system with a series of unanswerable questions, etc). It is always made clear that the hero would really prefer not ride the bus, but circumstances being what they are, must lower themselves to riding mass transit. The hero's fellow passengers are no better, being portrayed as the dregs of society who every day curse the fact that God has not killed them and ended their miserable days on Earth. This usually manifests itself as the following grouping:

- an "urban" youth
- a Hispanic man
- a plague-ridden child and his mother
- an elderly Asian couple
- a hippy college student
- a middle-aged black woman
- a 1920s-era Communist
- an alligator
- the late Shari Lewis and Lambchop
- the concept of crop rotation
- a copy of the CD "Monster Ballads"
- etc.

In addition, Hollywood has mandated that no less than three and no greater than four passengers be deemed "sassy" and helpful (for our purposes the middle-aged black woman, the alligator, and "Monster Ballads"), eager to help out the protagonist with his problems. I find this a bit outlandish. Not because I don't think an alligator can be sassy, but because no one ever talks on my bus. To demonstrate, here are a few scenes of dialogue from the movie "Speed," if the movie had been filmed during my morning commute:

Scene 1: ANNIE, an attractive young woman, has run to catch the bus.

ANNIE: Do you have any change?

BUS DRIVER:

ELDERLY ASIAN WOMAN:

HISPANIC MAN:

ALAN RUCK:

ANNIE: Ew, there's gum on my seat!

ALAN RUCK:

ELDERLY ASIAN WOMAN:

ANNIE: Morning.

MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN:

Scene 2: JACK, a police officer, has learned there is a bomb on the bus and has come to warn the passengers.

JACK: Everyone, I'm Jack Traven, LAPD. We have a slight...situation on the bus here.

MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN:

BUS DRIVER:

HISPANIC MAN:

Scene 3: The bus driver has been let off, ANNIE is now driving, and she has jumped the bus across a gap in the still-under-construction freeway ramp.

JACK: Are you okay?

ANNIE: I'm okay. I'm alright.

JACK: Is everybody okay?

ELDERLY ASIAN WOMAN:

HISPANIC MAN:

MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN:

ALAN RUCK: (pulls cord)

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