There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bad air quality

I want to monitor many more Web sites than I have time to visit. For most sites, I subscribe to RSS (really simple syndication) feeds and monitor content changes in my news reader. I'm a big Google Reader fan.

For static sites that don't have RSS feeds, I've found a very satisfactory alternative. Registered users of can enter URLs to be monitored. The site allows users to specify when the pages will be checked. You can check as often as once an hour. You can then receive an email that details the change in the static page.

For instance, I received this when I returned home on the bus today:

Differences in page
Public transportation reduces pollution and helps promote cleaner air.
I had to laugh at this, not just because of the deadly air here in Sacramento, but because it wasn't true on my trip downtown today.

Smells on the bus are not that common, certainly not as common as one might expect for a public conveyance -- the great unwashed hordes, and all that. But overstrong perfume is much more likely than unwashed body odor.

But shit happens.

A whole bag of shit judging from the smell that drew me out of my book and sent several riders fleeing the front of the No. 82 bus early this afternoon.

At first I thought a guy who walked past me was carrying a load in his pants. But then I noticed several people moving from the front of the bus to the back. Others were squirming and covering their noses with the collars of their T-shirts.

Attention was focusing on a skinny guy seated near the front door. He didn't look dirty. His clothes appeared clean. But the unmistakable smell of shit was spreading from him to every corner of the bus. My guess was that the smell was coming from a white plastic shopping bag and black trash bag on the floor in front of him. He was clutching the bags as if they were his only possessions in the world. Before long there was no one within four seats of the guy, and every window in the bus was open -- 106-degree heat or no.

The driver eventually realized he had a problem. He exchanged some words with the guy that I didn't hear while the bus was between stops, but the guy was unmoved. At Kaiser Hospital the driver stopped the bus and told the guy to leave. He refused. The driver got out of his seat and said he would have the guy removed. The guy refused to budge. The driver picked up the phone to call for help and several passengers who remained in the front of the bus shouted for the guy to leave.

The standoff didn't last long. The guy may have been crazy -- no one in their right mind smells like that -- but he wasn't that crazy. He scurried off the bus using the rear door and then went around to the front to salute the driver with his middle finger.

Call me crazy, but I miss my daily commute.


Mattie said...

Oh great - he was dumped off in my neighborhood! I haven't caught a whiff of him, though, so maybe he found a restroom.

John said...

I was sort of hoping Kaiser took him in.

Brian Goldner said...

speaking of bad air quality...
Yolobus and Unitrans offer free rides on "Spare the Air Days" (when the air gets so bad you're gonna die from breathing it?)
Why doesn't RT?
my gf was bugging me to carpool to the river cats last night b/c of the air quality, but finally we compromised and took light rail + biked. I bet more ppl would take transit on spare the air days if it was free