Bus passengers in an alternative universe

on the bus

Today, I got one of those emails trying to get me to engage more with Pinterest, and one of the pins it offered me was this one, which I thought was cool, because it’s one of my fave flicks of all time.

So I repinned it.

But then I noticed something… you ever take a good look at the passengers on the bus who turn back to stare at Benjamin and Elaine.

It’s like Mike Nichols deliberately filled the bus with People Who Will Never Be Seen Riding a Bus. At least, that would be the case in Columbia in 2014. And I’m even thinking it would be the case in California in 1967.

Dig the guys in suits. Especially the guy wearing cufflinks.

This is such a glaring anomaly that I find myself wondering whether it’s intentional, and it means something. Like maybe Nichols wanted a painfully bourgeois set of people to be staring at our lovebirds, or something.

Anyway, I’d never noticed it before, and I found it interesting…

20 thoughts on “Bus passengers in an alternative universe

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    I used to ride the bus in Chicago, every day, in a suit with floppy bow tie, along with plenty of cufflinked gents in suits. 1984-1986…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, in the city center. But this was out in the burbs. In California. Back in the days when upper-middle-class people bought a new car practically every year…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      You can find all sorts riding public transport, especially the trains, in and around New York, Washington, Chicago, London…

      But not anywhere in the suburbs of California, I’m thinking…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        I think older people, like these on the bus, did ride the bus a lot more back in the 1960s. They grew up riding it.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    My former publisher Fred Mott, I think, summed up most middle-class Americans’ objection to buses quite well, years ago, when we were arguing over public transit: “They stop and they go; they stop and they go…”

    I admit I’ve felt that same frustration on the few occasions I’ve ridden a bus since then (in New York and England). You get on a bus to go somewhere, and it stops 15 other places on the way the there — in addition to making all the stops at traffic lights, and waiting for other vehicle to make turns and such, that private vehicles must deal with.

    Which is why I so much prefer subways. They whisk you to your destination like magic, without regard to traffic. Yes, they make a few stops along the way, but they are quick, purposeful ones — people get on and off with alacrity. Subways are infinitely less frustrating that driving your own car — while buses are not.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Buses enjoy only one advantage for the rider over cars — and it’s one that subways enjoy as well: When you get there, you don’t have to find a place to park. You’re there. Or a short walk from there, which is just as good.

      1. Doug Ross

        If we could just convince everyone to live in densely packed, crime ridden, polluted cities. That would be awesome.

        1. Doug Ross

          Why is it so hard to understand that a large segment of the population has no interest in living in cities services by public transportation? If you want it, pay for it with fares and local taxes. I will never live anywhere that requires riding a bus or train. It sucks.

  3. Brad Warthen Post author

    Just now, on another post, the header image randomly generated was this one. I shot it on one of the gleaming, shiny, comfortable trains on the London Underground. The young lady in the foreground seemed emblematic of fashionable London, almost like a figure who had stepped out of the Carnaby Street days when the city set the style for the world.

    She was in boots with those pants that look like tights (all the rage that winter), with her white fleecy coat cinched tightly with the smart black belt, typing on her smartphone. The chic appeal she exuded was a perfect complement to the train car itself.

    The Tube is something I’d walk five miles every day to get the chance to ride again… I am so jealous of people who live in such a place…

    1. Doug Ross

      I will be in London for a week in November. I’ll let you know how enjoyable their transportation system is for me. I’ll also be taking the Eurostar to Paris. Just read an article last week about the Paris train station at the end of the trip – they called it a “Squalor Pit” due to the large number of homeless people, thieves, beggars, and drug addicts who frequent the station.


      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I’m so jealous! If you see the “Swingin’ London” girl from the picture, say “Hullo, luv” for me.

        If you don’t like the Tube, you just can’t be pleased.

        As for the Paris terminus — well, it’s in France, right? Isn’t that tyrant Bonaparte still running things there?

        We’re tentatively planning to go to Thailand next year. We can compare notes afterward…

        1. Doug Ross

          This quote from the station chief perfectly captures the attitude that comes from a life of socialism:

          “Gare du Nord reflects the diversity of the populations it brings together,” the station’s chief Jeremie Zeguerman said in a telephone interview. “The situation isn’t perfect and we’re looking for solutions to improve it, but overall it’s something to be rather proud of.”

          Proud of the homeless, drug addicts, and beggars?

  4. T.J. Harrington

    I ride the express bus to Charlotte and back to Huntersville just about every weekday. I would dare say that the bus I ride looks strikingly like a modern equivalent of the picture. To Brad’s point, there are four stops before hitting the highway then four stops until the end of the line in Davidson. The bus also gets free reign of the car pool lane which bypasses much of that awful traffic headed north on I-77. By far, the bus is the cheaper, shorter commute, but at a cost of flexibility.

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