Germany, like most other Western European countries, has a fabulous public transport system. Anytime I want to go downtown, there’s a nice, usually clean, bus to come pick me up and take me where I want to go. There are some funny things going on on these buses, though.
First of all, take the bus that runs between the university and downtown on a Friday night around ten, and you will probably see groups of twenty-something year-olds sharing drinks. You’ll also probably encounter a group of very drunk teenagers being loud and noisy, sometimes in song. I’ve actually had my window struck by the fist of a drunk sixteen-year-old girl who was trying to get the attention of the girl sitting next to me. Most of the time, though, the buses are very pleasant.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching this cute old couple (you know, the kind that are really friendly and smiley and wear unintentionally matching outfits) board the bus and sit next to me. There weren’t two seats next to each other, so the woman sat down, and the man attempted to stand. He wasn’t doing too well with this, and there was a seat across the aisle free. One was next to me, and the other was facing me. The woman suggested he take the seat next to me, and he attempted to do so. He wasn’t very steady on his feet in the moving bus, though, and ended up landing with a “plop” in the seat across from me. In doing so, he let out a “whoopsie-daisy!” with a German accent. It just made him even more cute.
People on the bus systems are really good about letting the elderly and people with children have the seats. It’s quite courteous, and I like it. Especially when a woman gets up to give a man and his son her seat. I like seeing the gender lines so blurred that they almost seem to disappear.
On the way home yesterday I ended up sitting behind a girl who was probably about 8 years old. No older than 9. She was singing to herself and then later talking to herself, as kids do. After a few minutes of traveling it occurred to me: this child was by herself. A little girl, eight years old, was riding the bus by herself. I was a bit taken aback at first, and remembered last year in Munich seeing a pair of boys who looked about 6 riding an even busier metro system all alone. It amazes me that people can do that here. I mean, really. People are worried about their bikes getting stolen, sure. But having a child stolen is not even an issue. It’s interesting, and I definitely approve of the “no child snatching” mentality.
Besides that, the only other thing about the bus system that I’ve noticed is that it’s never on time. It’s either late or it’s early, but it’s never on time.