A Dummy’s Guide to Drinking and Riding

On the way home tonight, I had one of 2 prized seats on the bus; one of the forward facing corner ones way in the back. This is the best seat in the house. You have the captain’s view of the passing street and sidewalk. No one is sitting behind you (which can be scary on some buses) and at least one side permanently vacated. It’s busborne seclusion. Not everyone likes these seats. It seems mostly guys like them and once in a while you’ll see a chick sitting in one. I scored that seat tonight, much to my delight. Just after leaving downtown, a short, pudgy Mexican guy (pudgy as in Cushing’s Syndrome) sat in the back, to my left on one of the sideways facing seats. We traveled a while before he suddenly withdrew a tall can of Budweiser in a plastic bag and took a big swig. He did that a couple more times before eventually exiting later on. I see this all the time. Usually the guys (it is always men) are “regulars.” You’ve seen them do it before, and you’ll probably see them do it again. It’s sneaky business with nothing much at stake except embarassment and wasted fare if you should be unfortunate as to be kicked off the bus. This never happens. It doesn’t take much effort or smarts to outwit the bus driver. First of all, never attempt to board the bus with an open container in plain sight. This is a no-shit-Sherlock tip, but I saw it happen once. Secondly, never attempt to drink alcohol in the front of the bus, or facing forward, if you can help it. The best position for Drinking and Riding is in the back of the bus, facing sideways if possible. Slink down. Perhaps angle yourself away from the front sweep of the bus. Chances are passengers won’t snitch or complain. They just don’t give a crap. They just want to get where they are going in the least amount of time necessary, and calling attention to an alcoholic rider will only delay the destination. Lastly, you must time your swigs with utmost care. The biggest risk you are taking is that the bus driver will spot you drinking from a beer or liquor bottle in the big wide-angled rear view mirror. You mustn’t allow this if you wish to continue enjoying your liquid ride. You must take swigs when the bus is moving, preferably through an area cluttered by crosswalks, pedestrians, traffic signals…the bus driver will be less likely to take his eyes off the road and this is your golden opportunity to take a swig. There is this older guy I see on the bus all the time, he has a weird skin condition that causes blotches of non-pigmented skin to dot his entire body. He carries a big duffel bag and inside he must have a 6-pack. Sounds like anyways. The bag looks heavy and when he leaves the bus, you can hear the glass clink. He always manages to land the best seat and has the drinking down to an art. He mixes it up too, I’ve seen him drink domestics and foreign beers in the bus. He doesn’t discriminate. Naturally, this begs the question. “David, did you ever Drink and Ride?” Why yes. I have. Not often. Once, on the bus, I carefully took some nips from a half pint of Jim Beam as I prepared for a Friday night, and another time I drank wine from a small bottle on the MTA light rail. That’s it. I don’t see the need to risk my self-respect by trying to sneak booze on a bus. It’s lame. No one ever gets caught but why be the first?

I’ve only seen one person caught drinking on a bus and booted. This was on the MTA 260 line about 6 years ago. I was sitting there, minding my own business. I had no idea what was going on until the bus driver pulled over and announced, over the mike, “You with the beer bottle. You’ll have to get off the bus.” Yikes. I was shocked. This older gray-haired guy in a t-shirt walked by and left the bus. I expected him to scurry off shamefully, tail between his legs, but he couldn’t because he had hitched his bicycle to the front of the bus. Sucker. It’s bad enough being kicked off the bus under such circumstances because you have a built-in audience of snickering onlookers, but imagine having to get off the bus, walk to the front (while everyone is watching you) and unfasten your bike while the bus driver who just kicked you off is sitting just a couple feet away behind the windshield while you hurriedly retrieve your bike and slink off into the distance. That happened to this poor man on the 260.

Gotta be a smart Drinker and Rider, man. Self-respect is all.