Saturday, September 11, 2010

Public Transportation in Swedish-America

This past week I was on the bus here in good old Swedish-America. I knew I was in Swedish-America and not Sweden for a couple of reasons. One, there were two kids in the back of the bus rapping. Loudly. And two, the bus driver was yelling at said kids. Loudly.

As I sat there, in the crossfire, listening to my the B.S. Report, I realized how some things are just so very different than what I grew used to (yet still complained about) in Sweden.

Public transportation is miserable everywhere I have decided. It is less miserable in some places, but as a general rule, where public transportation goes, misery follows. I do not like it.

In Sweden, I rode in silence. People seldom spoke. People barely looked at each other. People most definitely did not rap loudly. To be honest, I could care less if you rap loudly. I think it’s rude, but I’ve got my iPod in and have grown quite adept at ignoring noise. And who are we kidding, rap is just noise.

So there I sat, hearing just a bit of background noise when the bark came from the front of the bus. Shut up back there. Watch your mouth back there. Stop swearing back there. It was a furious few second of vitriol directed towards our budding Tupac. It seemed that the real problem was not so much the noise, but the language. These kids dared to swear. Shit.

As I have written before, I’m not a huge proponent of swearing. I think it is in poor taste when done in very public places. Public transportation, by definition, is public. But, I’ve been known to drop the occasional damn it. Fuck. Shit. Bitch. It happens, so I tend to get over it.

The bus driver did not. Because she followed with a classic line that made me hate her just a little bit. If you don’t stop, I will call the cops. I actually laughed out loud at this point. So now I’m the weird guy that laughs out loud while listening to an iPod. Oh well.

First, I had no idea that swearing was illegal. Second, I can’t imagine the police wanting to take the time and energy to respond to a call about two kids swearing on a bus. And third, really? Really? You’re going to stop the bus, with other passengers on it, call the police because of some foul language, and make us wait for the police to respond? Because of foul language?

I assume the Wu Tang Clan (I’m really running out of rapping references here…) in the back was thinking the same thing. Because they did not stop rapping. Although, instead of rapping about bitches and hoes, they switched to ice cream. Vanilla and chocolate. A deeper social commentary really.

As I finally stepped off the bus, I realized that in three years of riding public transportation in Sweden, nothing along those lines had ever happened. After one month riding public transportation in the US, there it was.

Welcome to Swedish-America. And rapping at the back of the bus.

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  1. I think its better when you travel by bus , at least you see outside the windows. The Tunnelbana really gets you and can get quite depressing sometimes. :o)

  2. I agree completely with your observation that public transportation sucks everywhere. They might differ in how they suck, but they all do suck. Some places might be cleaner or quieter or more efficient than other places, but it's almost always unpleasant :/


  3. Spårvagn would be the way to get around.

  4. I like public transport, but sometimes I don't like the public. It still beats spending hours in the daily traffic jams though.

  5. I've moved recently into Swedish-America to...there are almost enough Halverson's, Hallberg's, Larsson's, etc to make it the real thing. I laughed at your post. Cops calling I cant agree with but I hate public swearing, it gets my back up. RUDE!

  6. It's always interesting to see that a lot of people here in the US (from my experience) don't really like public transportation. Frankly, it's not very hard to see why though. Crazy people bothering you, kids rapping at the back of the bus, loud people, and a general sense of miserableness. After taking the bus for two years from school to home (equated to about an hour/hour and a half ride), I can say that I've experienced all of these, albeit not a very frequent basis.

    But from my experiences outside of the US, public transportation is actually a decent experience. Still miserable but people generally tend to leave you alone. In Japan, aside from the noisy school girls with their gossip, people aren't loud or disruptive in any manner. (There are of course rare exceptions to the rule).

    While I live near the most car friendly city in the US (LA), I have grown pretty tired of driving everywhere. I want to take good public transportation (well namely only subways and trains in a big city), but your post reminded me that there are bad points to it too.

    - Ben

  7. You may be amused with this little story about a fictional bus driver, whose character will be discerned by the older Americans in your vast audio radiance:

  8. I'm more interested in the ice cream rap. Swedes love ice cream and I hear them rap about it all the time.

  9. at least she didn't spank them. or maybe she should have. imagine how exciting your post could have been then.

  10. Hahaha, I am your blog twin, All you write about your life Sweden.. I write about my life in the US.

    Cheers to cultural clashes!

  11. disagreed. Rap is NOT noise, yeah!

  12. Hehe, try public transport in Mongolia where vodka is passed around, people sing along to christmas pop songs (strangely popular in Mongolia, especially Last Christmas) on a boombox and randomly throw up. Public transport in Sweden (and America) is a sweet dream in comparison.

  13. It's actually illegal to swear in front of women and children here in Michigan. ;)

  14. I am not emotionally involved in this one, thus I am watching with interest. My bias, if any, may be perceived by my wish that there were a blue-green party. Perhaps this SD burr under everyone else's saddle will help the Swedish polity toward realization of my little fantasy.

  15. I think you're commenting the wrong post, Ron. :)

    The party you're looking fore is probably Centerpartiet, who claim to care for the environment and is just as blue as Moderaterna.

  16. @Durotto – I suppose, but the bus is just so very slow sometimes.

    @anonymous – it’s a damn shame really, because I like the idea of public transportation. I just don’t like it in practice.

    @anonymous – oooh, old school.

    @Mazui – well said.

    @WyGal – it was rude, but lets not kid ourselves, calling the police is going a bit far.

    @anonymous – unfortunately, it isn’t always a pleasant experience.

    @Ron – oh I like it!

    @gabriel – clearly there is a market for glas-hop.

    @m8 – oh man, that would have been incredible. Public spanking on public transportation. Imagine that happening in Sweden?!?!

    @skruttplutt – YES, my opposite blog twin! Clearly we are awesome.

    @Todd – ok, ok. Unnecessary sound.

    @Olov – Sounds kind of like the night bus in Stockholm.

    @Cassandra – well that is just damn ridiculous.

    @Ron – I think you were off by a post, but as Mazui points out, Centerpartiet is probably close ot what youre looking for.

    @Mazui – good work!