26 July 2010

Bus Stations and Creepy People

The other day, I realized how segregated the city of Buffalo is. The inner city is so dilapidated and rather gloomy, and then you have Elmwood where all the yuppies and hippies are. And then the white upper-middle class people are now out of the city and live instead in the suburbs.

And this segregation reflects on the city's transportation system as well. Here in Buffalo, it seems that only the creepy people take public transportation. You ride the bus and metro, and sometimes you have this scary feeling that you don't belong, and that you always keep watch on your belongings because the person next to you looks creepy. I wish it weren't like that.

The last time I had to take the long-distance Greyhound bus, I was actually harassed in the bus station. I had to go to the bathroom, so I went. This bathroom was actually a room within a room. The bigger room was the room for the whole restroom, and you enter another room inside for the men's section.

So I was alone, and then in comes this fellow. He acts like he was about to attack me. You know, side-swiping my path, blocking my way, and all that. I go one way and he goes trying to block me. I was scared shitless, yet I was able to be calm. I managed to get out of the bathroom without causing a scene, and just walked out as fast as I can. Later on I looked, and apparently he had an accomplice, sitting on a chair that was directing facing the entrance to the bathroom. The creepy guy came out, and then he gave a high-five to the other guy. Wow. I guess they were just seeing how they could freak out people by their antics. But seriously, if he went ahead and made physical contact with me, I was ready to scream, given that the police office was just outside the restroom.

It made me think why bus stations in the US are creepy and full of creepy people. Or maybe it is just a quirk of Buffalo's station. Because Boston's South Station is not creepy at all. People of all parts of the social spectrum actually use the station, and it is lively. The same thing with New York's Port Authority. Yes, there are creepy people in Port Authority. But the point is that non-creepy people also use it too. And that makes a big difference. In Washington DC, non-creepy people also use the public transportation, but here in Buffalo, most if not all of the people who use the metro and the buses are creepy people.

It really is amazing what the car did. It basically created a divide between the social circles we have. People use the car to individualize themselves and create this bubble to surround them from the outside influences. You have the car, so you can distance yourself from the rest of society, by allowing yourself to live away and in a place that can only be reached if you have your own set of wheels.

I know it's a hallmark of technology, but somehow something's not working right there.

(Salt Water Flow, from my Salineras de Maras Series)


  1. I think it is mostly the U.S Greyhound, it's much "quieter" in Canada. Minus the murder in the Greyhound in Manitoba a couple of years ago, obviously.

    I remember when I crossed the U.S by Greyhound a few years ago, once we entered the U.S it was a total different crowd. Like the saying, "Greyhound buses are generally safe and clean but other passengers may not be" :-)

  2. Zhu,

    I've heard of that saying before! And I agree, the passengers may indeed be the problem. Which is why when I went to NYC this time, I took the train, and for just a difference of fare of 20 USD, I liked it!