Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Friendliest Bus Driver in all of Stockholm

I write a lot about the miserable experiences I have on public transportation here in Stockholm. Lately, I’ve been listening to people tell me their horror stories from other cities. From the delays that is the Washington DC subway to the stench that is the Paris metro. And I haven’t really had much t complain about lately. Especially since having moved away from the accursed pendeltåg. The commuter train. Best described as a melding of the sweaty sliding shorts of an offensive lineman and the silence of a state funeral. It’s really just a joy.

But no more, now I take subways and trains everywhere I go. And while they have their moments, listening to others moan about their hometown public transportation I was feeling pretty good. Especially after an incident the other day.

I was late. Well, on the brink of being late. It’s a brink I spend a lot of my time on for some reason. I blame the internet. As a general rule I don’t run for trains and busses anymore. In fact, it’s been several months since I ran a half marathon and I haven’t taken a single hurried step since then. And it feels amazing. But, as I said, I was late. And not for work but for drinks with a couple of buddies. So there was something at stake.

I saw the bus pull up to the stop just behind me. I was never going to make it. So instead I hit the crosswalk button knowing that it would turn the light red buying me time to run to the next stop. Turns out I am still slow. And that red lights are short. As I was running, I noticed the bus pull over at the stop ahead. YES! Someone would be getting off, buying me even more time. But I was still a good 50 meters away (I am damn near European with the usage of the metric system by the way).

With my head down and my hairy little legs churning, I was on my way. I glanced up. No one was getting off the bus. First, a moment of happiness. Clearly there was an old person working their way down the stairs. Ess-ell, the Nordic God of public transportation, was on my side.

I continued on. The bus getting bigger. My legs getting weaker. I made it. Only to see the bus driver laughing at me. Turns out he enjoyed watching a large hairy guy struggle to make the bus. He stopped and waited for me. Clearly the nicest bus driver ever. Much better than Lee who always threatened to take us back to elementary school when we were too loud.

So thank you kind bus driver. You made my day. And from the deep belly laugh you had going when I stepped on, I hope I made yours.

Welcome to Sweden. And public transportation’s cuddly side.

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  1. you lucky duck
    i used the pendeltårg for almost 3 months or sth (i can't remember exactly and too lazy to do a mental arithmetic) during cold months and never had a problem with it . in fact i choose it over subway , its seats are more comfortable and since it's larger i don't feel as cooped up as i do on the subway cars. actually , today i had to use the pendeltårg due to the fire incident in the subway and it was then when i recognized one more difference(which by the way took me the distance of like 20 meters), maps on commuter trains are placed at a small frame above doors not like subway sticked to those glases behind the seats.

  2. "Ess-ell, the Nordic God of public transportation, was on my side."

    I had to think about that one for a second before I realized the genious of that.. well it's not really a pun is it? More of a..

    Well, I enjoyed your writing..

  3. Something similar happened to me a while ago. I saw the bus behind me, and started to run, it passed me , it was quite far to the busstop and I thought I wasn't going to make it, but I was glad I had good sneakers on. I wasn't late for something, but it was one of those suburb-buses that doesn't go that often, every half an hour or something, so I didn't want to stand at that boring busstop for half an hour waiting for the next one. So I ran. I saw two people waiting, "good, then the bus will stop at least". For every step I took I felt, "no, now it's going to leave the stop" but it waited for me. The busdriver wasn't laughing, but he was smiling and said "Snyggt löpsteg!" (I'm not really sure of the translation but something like "Nice running-step" and I was gasping for air and said "Thank you for waiting for me!" and he said "I always wait when I see people running like they mean it, like they are on a running track". I think that busdrivers in the suburbs are a little nicer that way, they wait for people because they now that there is half an hour to the next one, in the city when it's like 5 minutes or something to the next bus, I think they're like "I don't wait, she can take the next one."

  4. Quid pro quo. Bus driver gets to watch your amusing dash, you get to catch the bus.

    You've described yourself as tall...but you wrote about little legs. So now I have this strange image of a man with a super long torso and short, little legs churning toward a bus. Disturbing.

  5. Me and public transportation don't mix...unless you count overpriced taxis. Loved your story. I sincerely cannot believe you could be as hairy as you have us all believing. Maybe you're just a little hairy and have a complex about it so blow your hairyness out of proportion. Or maybe you're completely hairless and are pretending to be hairy because you secretly long to be able to grow a mustache. I need photographic evidence.

  6. i hate it that people here in stockholm use their cell phones on the subways all the time. all the time! it is as if swedes throw common sense and civility out the window. not fun. riing..

  7. We had a really good bus driver yesterday leaving Skansen - he had forgot his stamp thingy, but still pretended to stamp our remsor with his hand. It entertained not only us, but every other paying passenger as well!

  8. Godines, what would you have us do then? We live in the 21st century if you didn't notice, and why does it bother you? Do you feel ignored that no random stranger comes up and talk to you instead of talking in his cell? :)

  9. @http – thanks.

    @Tod – you lucked out then. I used it for nearly a year and was absolutely miserable on it.

    @Tobias – Ess-ell is everywhere in Stockholm. The omnipotent Nordic god really.

    @Sofie – Those are the kind of bus drivers I like. A little humor and a little respect for the people who make an effort to get to the bus.

    @E – Id say a fair trade.

    Well, I mean little not short. I was once described as having very small calves for being as big as I am.

    Although your mental image is a hell of a lot more entertaining than the truth.

    @SwedishJenn – Ants get stuck in my leg air and die. Seriously. They crawl in and can’t find their way out.

    @godines – there is a lot of cell phone use on public transportation. I think Ive just gotten used to it. It bothered me a lot when I first got here now I hardly notice.

    @terander – They should always put the friendly bus drivers on the touristy routes like the ones that go out to skansen.

    @anonymous – well, when I first got here I just thought it was weird because people were always so loud and discussing things that maybe shouldn’t be discussed in public. Like they forgot that there were other people around who could hear every word.

  10. Little is not short. True. Yet I'll "see" you with midget legs from now on. Can't help myself.

    On the topic of cell phones. It IS how loudly people speak into them, in my opinion. It's as if they don't quite get that their actual voice doesn't have to carry across the miles. That's what all that *magical* cell phone technology does for us. Of course, there are definitely those who want us all to hear what they're talking about...but that's another thing.

  11. that works for me. I like midgets.

  12. I can't say I actually know any, but I'm sure I'd like them. I think midget is a pejorative term maybe they wouldn't like me. I think they prefer to be called little people.

    God. I'm sorry. It's 1 am here and I can't seem to stop myself from posting stupid comments right now.

  13. I am totally not smart. It took me reading Tobias' comment about Ess-ell to get the joke. Wow. S-M-R-T. Homer Simpson style.

    Once I got it, it was hilarious. Very good. Just too smart for me to figure out on my own.

    Oh, and I never run for the bus. I'm short, uncoordinated, and out of shape, not a good combination for running. Props to you for making it!

  14. @E - I think you're probably right. Maybe not PC. But like doesn't have to be two sided. Its ok to like midgets even if they dont like you back.

    @Shawna - I think running for the bus is overrated. Unless you have a bar to be at. Obviously.

  15. Maybe for you. I don't do unrequited like. It makes me feel all stalker-y inside. I try to avoid that so I can't make an exception for the midgets.

  16. come on now, just think of charlie and the chocolate factory. Im pretty sure unrequited like is ok in this situation.

  17. that horrid song will be stuck in my head as I'm trying to fall asleep.

  18. I really just have one question then... what do you get when you guzzle down sweets? / eating as much as an elephant eats

  19. Since the question *was* submitted in writing. Here's one answer. You get diabetes.

  20. well... it was an answer, but what I was looking for was:

    "What are you at getting terribly fat?
    What do you think will come of that?

    I don't like the look of it

    Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da
    If you're not greedy, you will go far
    You will live in happiness too
    Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do"

  21. LOL. I know that's what you were getting at, but I'm glad I didn't comply because you writing it just seems a lot funnier. I was playing along though. I used one of my favorite Willy Wonka quotes: "I'm sorry, but all questions must be submitted in writing." It's a very mature response & handy in all sorts of question-answering situations. ;)

  22. that movie is filled with amazing quotes. I think I need to wath it again. Its been a while.