- Hand wipes
Now I know what you're thinking: "Hand wipes are a thing of the past. We have something called 'hand sanitizer' in the twenty-first century." But you'd be wrong, my friend. I've tried hand sanitizer and you know what? IT JUST SPREADS THE GERMS AROUND IN A BIG STICKY MESS OF WHICH YOU CANNOT RID YOURSELF. Hand wipes are so much more easier to use for wiping away that indescribable green blotch on the windowsill next to you. Hand wipes, my friend, are a definite necessity.
- Small bottle of perfume
You will come into contact with smelly people on public transportation. It is unavoidable. Sometimes you will be trapped on a small seat with them, unable to escape for extended periods of time. Luckily, if you have a spray bottle of something that smells better than the rank fish stench of the man sitting next to you, use it to your advantage, and covertly spray a mist of sweet, sweet Waterfall Breeze (or Pumpkin Spice, or Plumeria Explosion, or whatever scent from Bath and Body Works that floats your boat) and instead of passing out from the smell, you will instead be transported to a tropical paradise where all the smelly people are exiled to the far side of the island.
Now, for a short list of some of the people you will encounter on public transportation:
- the homeless
I have nothing against the homeless. While I am fortunate enough to have a home (for which I am very grateful), I get it. Not having a home sucks. Having to schlep all of your belongings everywhere you go sucks. Not being able to consistently take showers sucks. Having to scrape together a dollar and a half to take the bus or the train for a one-way trip sucks. I GET IT. So why every single homeless person in the greater Southern California area always decides to sit next to me, is beyond my comprehension. Therefore, I have devised two ways to avoid getting smashed in the back of a crowded bus during rush hour on a 105 degree day with the man that smells like a grease trap and mildew and the woman who is talking to herself and carrying everything she owns wrapped in a blanket that's made of fur.
The first, if you're lucky enough to have a seat all to yourself, is to take up as much room as possible. Sure, it's rude, but you will learn quickly that this is what everyone else does when given the chance. Why should you be the one exception? If you have more than one bag, plop it down next to you. Jacket? Casually drape it over the entire seat, to give the impression that you may in fact be saving that seat. Remember how kids on the school bus used to do this? You knew damn well that Skippy McGee wasn't going to have anyone sitting next to him. He was just being a jerk and taking up the whole bench so you'd have to stand while trying to balance your government and chemistry books, along with your umbrella and lunch. This same idea applies to public transportation. If you do this, you're more than likely going to avoid anyone sitting next to you. The second option, while less desirable, does give you more flexibility to move from creepy and/or smelly riders. It is to stand. You can move from the smells, the children crying, the people coughing. If anyone tries to give you trouble, you can either glare them down, or move somewhere else. Sometimes you won't have a lot of space in which to move, so again, try to stake out your territory by taking up as much room as possible. Much like when faced with a bear in the wild, you must make yourself appear to be larger. Be aggressive if the man with an oozing nose is trying to move in on your space. Literally put your foot down. If it happens to be on his ankle and you're wearing stilettos, oh, well. You were there first.
Again, I get it. You're in an area that is unfamiliar, you may or may not speak the language well enough to understand common vernacular, and you may in fact be traveling in the wrong direction from where you need to be headed. But please, for heaven's sake, do not distract the driver from taking off from the curb or platform, and keep us parked in one spot for twenty minutes while you ask for directions. Also, when the driver or any other passenger does tell you where you need to get off, or where to get the next mode of transportation, do not argue with them, as if you suddenly know everything about the area. The locals will try to get you to the right destination. We do not get our kicks by telling tourists from Uzbekistan or Idaho to take the wrong train or bus. We don't want you to end up at the Balboa Peninsula when you're trying to get to Disneyland, or have you at Revere Beach when your destination is the Boston Opera House. Just get on the damn bus, sit down, shut up, and eventually you'll get where you need to go. The Single Girl can avoid these folks by not meeting them in the eye, pretending not to understand what they're asking her, or to ignore them completely. This may again be rude, but do you really want to get sucked into a conversation with a tourist where your shoelaces end up missing at the end of the conversation, and you may or may not be part of a pyramid scheme to raise money for mountain goats?
More pearls of wisdom to come.