August 06, 2009

My Fare Lady

Although there are crowd avoidance strategies that an experienced transit user can usually employ, sometimes he has no choice but to get on a jam packed bus. The population density becomes so great that it is not possible to count the number of people on board without falling asleep first. On one such busy occasion, I somehow found myself positioned between the two most attractive female passengers on the bus. I was tightly holding on to the overhead handlebars and trying to maintain my balance so as not to bop into either of the women, lest they form an incorrect opinion of the Prince of Honour.

The bus was idling at one intersection for several minutes due to the heavy traffic. The temperature was pushing 40 degrees. Everyone was sweating heavily, using their arms to wipe the perspiration dripping from their foreheads or just letting it splash onto nearby passengers. As I was drying myself with one hand, I was knocked from behind with considerable force. I lost my grip on the handle bar and felt myself falling. I used the lady in front of me to stop my forward momentum. She instinctively turned around and shot me a dirty look. I also turned my head to see what was going on behind me. The other pretty lady was flat on her back. She had collapsed from heatstroke or some other malady. I delicately attempted to lift her up with the aid of a scrawny Chinese chap. We were having some difficulty until we were helped by the fare lady.

Responsible for making sure everyone pays for their bus ride, the ticket collector was a big boned woman of sturdy stock. She pushed aside the crowd that had formed a circle around the prone body and picked up the young woman. She shooed away the occupant of one of the seats reserved for the sick, pregnant, and elderly, and dumped the knockout there. She had regained consciousness by now and was rubbing the shoulder she had landed on. The fare lady checked to see if the girl still had her wits about her. Once this was verified, she yelled at the bus driver to keep going. The remainder of the journey was not noteworthy.


Colonel Hugh Pickering: Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?
Professor Henry Higgins: Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?
Colonel Hugh Pickering: Yes, very frequently.

- My Fair Lady, the winner of the 1964 Best Picture Oscar