How to be civil on the bus

1. Before you get on the bus, wash yourself. Preferably with soap. Then, kindly refrain from dousing yourself in anything that smells. That includes Axe body spray and Chanel No. 5. I don’t care how sexy you think you smell, or how much you spent on it, if it can reach the nose of someone sitting next to you, do not apply it to your body.

2. Do not make eye contact. Look at others only as much as is necessary to avoid touching them.

3. If you happen to be carrying something with speakers, do not turn it on. It must remain off for the full duration of the bus ride. If anyone else can hear your music, it’s too loud.

4. If you have a cell phone, set it to silent or vibrate. Try not to take any calls. Especially do not take private calls. Especially especially do not take private calls that may provoke you to screech, holler, yell, gesticulate, repeat yourself, speak loudly, talk about your section 8 housing status, or be audible, in any way, to fellow passengers for longer than 30 seconds. 30 seconds is permissible for an actual emergency, e.g. someone is currently dying and you need to re-route.

5. If you have a small child, seat it on your lap and physically prevent it from touching other passengers. Small children are well-known carriers of disease. If your small child is not capable of remaining silent for the duration of bus travel, please refrain from bringing it on the bus at all.

6. Do actually pay to be on the bus. If you refuse, at least show some respect for decent, paying customers and follow the other rules of civility. Additionally, never take a seat that a paying customer could occupy. Remember, you’ve made yourself a petty criminal and therefore a second class citizen via theft of service.

7. If someone appears to be having a harder time standing than you would, and you have a seat, offer it to them. For example, if you’re an old lady who has done absolutely nothing today but purchase a canister of assorted nuts and bring it to bridge club, you can certainly get up for the exhausted student hauling 40 pounds of books.

8. Do not talk to your hallucinations on the bus. No one else thinks they’re in Vietnam under heavy enemy fire and that our lives depend on the driver flooring it through the red light. Kindly shush and keep that nonsense to yourself.

9. Do not speak to your friends any louder than is absolutely necessary for them to hear you. No one — probably not even the person you’re talking to — cares about the exhausting effluvia of your thoughts.

10. Don’t touch anyone. Not with your groceries, not with your backpack, not with your precious messenger bag, or your bike helmet. But certainly not with your hand. And ten kinds of certainly do not touch anyone’s hair, you pervert. Remember, touching does not happen between strangers in a civilized society. Relatedly, if someone touches you, be quick to forgive or at least ignore. Let us all assume no one wants to touch or be touched on public transit.

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