Breakfast host on The Hits, columnist for nzherald.co.nz Life & Style.

Polly Gillespie: Riding the bus keeps me close to where I'm from

I’ll proudly yell it from the odd smelling, peacock coloured velour seat near the front of the large people transporter… “I love riding the bus!” Photo / Supplied
I’ll proudly yell it from the odd smelling, peacock coloured velour seat near the front of the large people transporter… “I love riding the bus!” Photo / Supplied

How rude. How presumptuous. I can't believe a friend I've known for years snorted: "Oh dear. I wouldn't have picked you for a 'bus' person!"

Not a bus person? I don't strike you as a bus person my friend? I'm offended. I ride the bus. I'm a bus rider. I'll proudly yell it from the odd smelling, peacock coloured velour seat near the front of the large people transporter... "I LOVE RIDING THE BUS!"

I think, actually I know, that I say "ride the bus" not "catch the bus" because of my time in America. My years living there have left me with four things:

1. I say ride the bus instead of catch the bus.

2. I say trash instead of rubbish.

3. I love root beer. Specifically A&W root beer, of the diet variety.

4. I know Donald Trump could win that election. I think if you've lived in the US you become aware that it's not party preference based simply along economic or moral lines. It's economics, morals, religion, colour, tradition, city, county, state, and a thousand other things. It may seem impossible to imagine, but it's far from impossible that Trump will be "King of the World!" (Please say that in your head like Jack Dawson at the front of the Titanic).

Anyway, back on board the bus ...

I love riding the bus for so many reasons. Firstly, I really don't enjoy driving. More importantly, I loathe parking. I'm not a parker. I don't like to park. It's not the actual parking, more the hunting for one. I'm not one of those people that has to park within 100 metres of where I'm going either. I just hate parking. Hunting, spotting, paying. It's not my game. Like football, it's just not my sport.

Riding the bus keeps me close to where I'm from. I'm from a one car family where Dad drove. Mum rode a bike or walked and my sister and I either walked or caught the bus.

Riding the bus puts you in a situation where you see a cross section of society.

On a normal ride there will be the elderly, always a lot of them (a tip of the hat to Winston Peters for that). There will be students on their way to uni. They tend to be classless or without clear class signatures. They're all dressed as students dress.

Often there will be young mothers with children and perhaps non-drivers or people from families with one car or no car. They generally don't look wealthy. There are occasionally business people. Perhaps they are greenies, or perhaps they have lost their licenses.

There is always a scattering of the nutty, semi-nutty, eccentric and alternative, and depending on where you are going, there will often be someone who smells of alcohol, cigarettes, or who is not pre-disposed to general hygiene or is living rough.

I'm not keen on the smelly bus riders. Not because I'm a snob, but I'm just highly sensitive to all fragrance. I have been known to shuffle from seat to seat to escape a smelly person. Or spray fragrance on to my scarf and breathe in Chanel samples. What a contradiction of terms, aye? I like to ride the bus to be one of the people, but if "one of the people is stinky" I drown my nausea in Chanel. Oh what a working class hero I am!

I don't like that a friend, and a working class-raised friend, thinks I seem like someone who wouldn't catch the bus. I don't want to be considered someone who thinks that's below me, because it's not.

It's normal and it's a service provided for everyone regardless of social standing, economic situation or colour. It's one of the only places, other than the park, where there is a mix of people from all walks of life with a simple common goal: to get somewhere.

I'm not a parker, and I'm not a cyclist. (That's a terrifying and death defying pursuit. Utter insanity.) I like to walk, but sometimes I like to arrive somewhere not sweaty and smelling of salty wind.

I catch the bus. I ride the bus. I like the bus. It keeps me in the middle of the pack, and when you're in the middle of the pack you become aware of what our society looks like. It's a good, if not occasionally uncomfortable, place to be.

- NZME.

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Breakfast host on The Hits, columnist for nzherald.co.nz Life & Style.

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