Sean Beckwith: How to ride the bus without being a jerk |

Sean Beckwith: How to ride the bus without being a jerk

The countdown to the grind is rapidly approaching. November is here and the first flood of adult infants will be here over Thanksgiving to give you a little primer for the busy season. Pretty soon it will be sensory overload to the point that you start considering doing things you would never do.

“My bus leaves in five minutes. If I throat-punch these people asking an endless stream of questions at the weed shop, maybe they’ll shut up, buy an edible and I can complete my errand without learning the history of marijuana, again.”

It’s mostly the day-to-day routines that get altered. A trip to the grocery store or the commute to work has to be adjusted for unforeseen idiocy.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment is public transportation. Those of us who opt to avoid road rage — or, as is my case, have a car without heat — the days of hassle-free ridership on public buses are over. While the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has its own list of recommended bus courtesies, I have my own set of standards I’ve developed over the years.

Seating priorities

It goes like this: Seniors, moms with children, bus riders and your bag of crap — in that order. Far be it for me to preach respect while taking potshots at pretty much everybody, but I’ll be the first person to give up my seat.

I’m a 31-year-old adult, so standing for 30 minutes isn’t overly strenuous. I know some of you probably finished a shift on your feet and want to rest on the bus ride; however, I shouldn’t have to finish this thought. Think about if it were your grandma or mother. Would you take a seat before you offered one to either of them? If yes, I like your sense of humor, but not your sense of respect.

Also, a bag isn’t a seat-saver or something to get you out of having to sit next to someone. Put your pack on your lap or prepare for it to be thrown on your lap as a coworker of mine unapologetically does.

Cellphones and loud conversations

My first recommendation is to always carry your headphones or earbuds. When I forget mine, I panic like a parent who forgot to charge the iPad before traveling with small children. The feeling of helplessness is debilitating.

If I remember my earbuds, I have a way out of listening to Matt and Greg break down what day is leg day and what day is cardio day. Sometimes, though, it’s early enough that I’m annoyed by any noise, including my music. If you’re a morning person, you should know that distinction isn’t a distinction at all; it’s a character flaw like hoarding or mouth breathing.

Lastly, no cellphone conversation has ever improved the ambience anywhere. Work the phones on your own time, Gordon Gekko.

Booze/late-night bus rides

Bad behavior on the bus may be leading to RFTA dramatically changing its rules. According to a recent story in The Aspen Times, a bus driver said people piss on the bus, berate drivers and start fights. When did the night shift at RFTA turn into after hours at a frat house?

I’ve acted like an ass on the 2 o’clock bus many times, and I’ve never done any of those things. Once, I threw up in my mouth a little and held it in until the next stop. Am I proud of this accomplishment? Absolutely not, but it was necessary because grown adults shouldn’t put other grown adults in a position to deal with vomit.

Getting rid of open containers on the bus won’t prevent drunken imbeciles from causing havoc. That said, I’ve always viewed discretion as the best policy. Red solo cups full of mixed drinks are not subtle and are prone to spills. A beer in a koozie, even if already opened, should be able to fit in your pocket while boarding the bus. (Also, new Hunter Creek bus with the permanent light on in back, I’m on to you. We all know it’s there to shine a light on open-consumption violators.)

So what is an appropriate solution for preventing sloppy bus patrons? My best guess would be prohibition (yeah, right) or a Breathalyzer at the entrance to the bus, which would spark some pretty entertaining games of “Beat the bus or sleep with the bums.”

Common Courtesy

If a driver misses your stop, please do not yell at them. It may be his or her first day on the route, or an honest mistake. The bus is free, so there’s no need to act like an entitled buffoon.

Lastly, anyone who’s worked in the service industry has a little subconscious chalkboard that keeps track of who says please and thank you. Those three words may not make up for splattering your jungle juice all over, but they are appreciated when sincere.

Be respectful and don’t ruin ridership for the rest of us.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at

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