Dec 2014
Josie Bungert

The people on the bus go sleep and sound

Recently, someone fell asleep on me on the bus.

Let me paint the picture for you:

Our bus was late. 22 minutes late. When it snows in Minnesota, everything is delayed an astronomical amount. My bus comes about every seven minutes to my stop, which usually makes them pretty tolerable, since they aren’t always jam-packed with riders. But, if my math is correct, 22 minutes late means three different wait times all attempting to get onto one bus as to not be later than they already are, which means full seats and standing room only in the aisles.

I was happy I not only got a seat, but got a window seat (the best, obvi). Aisle seats aren’t great and I didn’t have to stand! Joyous day. Occasionally in busy commute times, we will have one or two people standing in the aisle, but today the entire aisle was full. I felt bad for the people in the aisle, but then was overcome with the realization that I was no longer at ease but uncomfortably trapped in my seat, against the window, with my seatmate and a full aisle of people blocking me from the 15-rows-away exit. And then, about five minutes into the ride, my seat buddy started to nod off, and I remembered abruptly how incredibly claustrophobic I am.

Don’t get me wrong – I totes don’t mind people sleeping on the bus. Mostly because I sleep on the bus, almost everyday, on my morning commute in. Who would say no to an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning? Especially in the winter, nothing is better than leaving your warm house for your cold car and your cold bus ramp only to get onto the warm bus with plush seats and be able to fall right back to sleep.

But what I do mind is when people sleep and it’s not a nap – it’s a full-on, off in dreamland, my-doctor-would-confirm-this-as-REM-sleep-and-congratulate-me-on-my-stellar-ability-to-sleep-anywhere sleep.

That was where the guy next to me was at. He was passed out. At first, he was sitting up, arms crossed and head back (proper bus riding sleep position). But as he fell more and more asleep, his body fell closer and closer to mine. He woke up/adjusted three separate times, each time landing in my personal space yet again, until his shoulder was jamming into mine, and the people in the aisle seemed to be getting closer and closer to my little row of solitude that I thought I was going to vom right into my Kate.

Did I mention I am incredibly claustrophobic?

I know you’re all wondering, why didn’t I push him off? Well one, I am the epitome of the passive-aggressive Minnesotan. I would rather quietly readjust in my seat in order to maybe nudge him a little to get the message than totally push him off. I didn’t want to embarrass the guy, and then have to sit next to him in uncomfortable silence the rest of the ride. Two, remember how I mentioned I sleep on the bus everyday? If, heaven forbid, I was to be like this sleepy man, I wouldn’t want to get jammed by someone else’s elbow. Three, he had a long day, and I was trying to be nice (even though it made me uncontrollably crabby the rest of the evening).

I did, however, regret not pushing him off when we arrived at the park & ride and he woke up without a care in the world, and walked off like it was his regular routine, with no words spoken about it.

I suppose it could have been worse. The sleeper didn’t lean his head on my shoulder, and it’s not like he was drooling (though he was audibly snoring, which scared me since I never knew when we would hit a bump too hard and he would quickly awaken with a jolt in his snoring). But, for me, his sleeping combined with the amount of people on the bus ruined my commute, as I was on edge and sweating by the time I finally got out and felt the frigid winter air hit my lungs.

After this experience, I feel it my duty to teach the rest of you bus-riders and public-transportation-takers some simple space-sharing etiquette.

  • If you want to sleep on a bus/subway/in a taxi, simply sit back in a full, upright position, and sleep only in your seat space
  • If not too crowded and you want to sleep on the bus, try to get a window seat. If on a subway or in a taxi, find a seat where you can lean on a window. Much better for all of those involved if you can lean on the window instead of your neighbor.
  • If standing in the aisles on a bus or subway, try to keep to the aisles, so you don’t run the risk of falling into someone’s lap (can you imagine if someone had fallen into sleepy guy’s lap? A potentially terrifying experience for all.)
  • If you DO fall asleep on someone, when you do eventually wake up, apologize to the person for being such an inconvenience/potentially claustrophobia inducing nightmare.