The Most Disturbing Thing You've Seen on Public Transportation

Illustration for article titled The Most Disturbing Thing You've Seen on Public Transportation
Image: JACK GUEZ/AFP (Getty Images)

Public transportation is a necessary evil. It’s good for the environment! It reduces traffic congestion! It benefits the community financially! It saves you money! But it is also a microcosm of all facets of humanity, much of which involve human waste. This week, I want to hear all about the most disgusting and disturbing, er, “ events” you’ve witnesses on public transportation. Get gross, Jezebel commenters!

But first, let’s look at last week’s winners. These are your best Valentine’s Day stories.

doughtato, yes! So sweet:

Last year my boyfriend and I had a Witcher themed Valentine’s. I ordered a medieval looking dress from Etsy and got some turkey legs and mead and we ate without using utensils. We didn’t really look anything up about the time period (and obviously it’s a fantasy show anyways) so it was super inaccurate but really fun. I still make the turkey legs recipe from time to time, they taste really good and they’re fun to eat.

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BeaBun, I enjoyed these, thank you for sharing:

My sweetest story is not from a girlfriend or a boyfriend, but rather just from a very kind man.

I was a part-time student, working full time, and my mother had regained interest in her younger children, so I was slowly, and anxiously easing myself into letting her take full-time responsibility back for them. This, like many times in my life, was not a good time. I was stressed all the time.

There was a guy my age in my classes. (Same work schedule) He was interested in me, but didn’t push it after I told him I didn’t have time to think about a relationship. He just kind of accepted it, but continued to be a good classmate, walking me out to my car at night in the empty parking lot. Valentine’s Day fell on a school night, and he walked me to my car. Then, he pulled out a little pink-and-white stuffed dog holding a rose. For me. This was not a Grand Romantic Gesture on his part. He was already starting to see someone else.

He just knew I was under a lot of stress, and wanted to do something nice for me. I still have that little dog, ten years later.

Funniest Valentine’s Day stories were when I was a florist. (I’m a 31-year-old millenial, I’ve had a lot of jobs) V-Day was a carefully planned operation, but for every guy acting like a jerk about it, there would be ten who were quite happy to just get their partner some flowers. One guy comes in around noon, on his lunch break, and is looking over arrangements. Me and my coworker were standing near a table, and asked if he needed any help picking something out. “Yeah. My wife’s not a big Valentine’s Day person, but I don’t want her to think I don’t appreciate her. If one of you could just put togethersomething pretty? She likes pink and blue a lot, like that one.” He then pointed to an arrangement.

That was not pink and blue. It was in fact orange and green. (Some people don’t like pink, not even for Valentine’s Day! No judgement, we tried to have a lot of options)

Me and my coworker looked at each other, like, “You see the correct colors, too? I’m not having a stroke?”

The man then sighed and went, “It’s not pink and blue, is it?”

“No, sir.”

“Yeah, I’m colorblind, I was guessing. Can one of you pick me out a nice pink and blue one?”

OR

The teenage boy who came in at 5pm with his dad. His dad looked tired. The teenager looked surly. The dad brought him up to the counter and asked “Do you have any roses left?” We did, just not red by that hour. He said that was fine. Six roses and whatever filler we have left. (Not a lot by 5pm) His son then said “Dad, it’s not a big deal!” Helooked at us, and asked, “Ladies, tell me, if your boyfriend of ten months showed up on both Valentine’s Day /and your birthday/, without flowers, would you have been disappointed?”

I mean, yeah. Duh. My coworker was like, “I would have broken up with you. It’s her birthday.” The teenager eyed us. His dad, handing over his credit card: “I am just trying to save you from yourself, buddy. Nevaeh is a nice girl.”

Ken Yadiggit, there is always the future:

I recently broke up with my partner of 5+ years after coming to the realization (or, as I also look at it, finally accepting) that I am gay.

I am now living back at my mothers house, which while isn’t ideal in the grand life plan, did come at a good time during a pandemic where I find myself privileged to have a secure and safe place to live and save some money.

I had always said, I don’t care about Valentines...but I’m realizing now I was cool towards the holiday because I never expected much. My past partners were selfish, inattentive, and constantly in crisis. So my needs were never first, nor was the idea that maybe I’d like to be doted on too. I refused love and care so much, under the guise that I was independent and cool. It was really that I had such low self-esteem and such hatred for myself that I didn’t believe I deserved it. And I picked partners to match that sentiment.

So this weekend my mother and I will share a bottle of champagne, order some terrible food and probably watch Gilmore Girls for the 5000th time. I am finally in a place where I look forward to the future, to meeting and falling in love with the woman of my dreams, and finally allowing myself to be loved in return. In the end, I am looking forward to the fact that, well, I haven’t had my Best Valentines yet. And that, to me, is exciting.

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URL: Senior Writer, Jezebel. IRL: Author of the very good book 'LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands from NKOTB to BTS,' out now.

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DISCUSSION

greenpig
The Old Man from Scene 24

My cousin/surrogate father figure was a bus driver for New Jersey Transit for 30 years. Most of his routes ran from Philadelphia/Camden to the southern ‘burbs like Millville and Bridgeton NJ, so there was always a good mix of inner-city riders, New Jersey’s own special brand of provincials and every thing in between.

Some of the stories....

Finding left over food near the back of the bus was such a common occurrence, it’s barely worth mentioning. There was one woman who would regularly board with a box of Church’s fried chicken and eat the entire meal during her trip, and leave the greasy bones on the floor under the seat in front of her. It got so bad, the drivers complained to the union, which resulted in NJT putting a supervisor on the bus to confront the woman.

The drivers were eventually given permission to deny her boarding if she was carrying fried chicken.

The tales of human feces/urine/vomit/semen found on the bus were numerous as well. And disgusting.

The one story I remember above all the others was about a guy the driver’s nicknamed “Pops.” By all accounts, Pops was an tall, skinny older gentleman somewhere between 75 and 200 years old. He would board a random NJT bus in Center City Phila and ride it to the end of the line to where ever in South Jersey, then pay the fare back into CC. He never got off anywhere, he just sat toward the back of the bus, watching the world go by and sometimes reading a newspaper someone left behind.

Apparently, this went on for years and since Pops always polite, never caused any problems and always had exact change, he became an unofficial mascot of sorts. Some of the drivers would bring him gifts of food or clothing, and Pops would always give them a very neatly hand-written thank you note the next time he saw them.

On a trip back to Phila late one night, Pops struck up a conversation with my cousin, and told him he rode the bus because “it was better than sitting around watching the idiot box.”

One day, one of the drivers heard from another rider that Pops had been struck by a car while crossing the street and was in the hospital. Some of the drivers took up a collection and my cousin along with another driver visited Pops in the hospital. Pops was overjoyed to see them and told his nurses that my cousin and the other driver “were closer to him than his family.”

When Pops got out of the hospital, he continued to ride the buses for a few more months. One day, he told one of the drivers that he was going to move in with his sister somewhere in North Phila. He handed the driver a card addressed to all the NJT drivers that simply said “Thank you and God Bless, Pops.”

So yeah, not exactly a ‘disturbing’ story, but the big orange turd has been out of office for nearly a month now and I’m getting used to not cringing when I open my news feed in the morning, so forgive me for my slightly upbeat tone.