That NYer story on dollar vans. I skimmed it, granted. But it misunderstood so much. They never talked about the gamble. About waving down a van, never knowing if this will be the one that gasses you with one-hundred cardboard air fresheners or not. Whether this will be a praise van or a party van. Spreading the good word of Jesus every Tuesday night. If you are feeling down (I missed the rest … not sure what you are supposed to do, but they are there for you. Life is hard. The Tuesday night gospel hour knows.) or screens on the back of the seat playing night club video with plenty of upskirt footage, checking out the view you are missing because you can’t shimmy quite that low. Instead, let’s pretend there’s some other way to board a commuter van. That there are riders with, what? prearranged pickups? Anyone on Flatbush boards a van except by hailing it, preferably from a bus stop you’ve been standing at for 20 minutes already in the heat or the rain or the cold. Only open the one door, get in quickly and find a seat, no moaning if it is all the way in the back row and if an elderly or disabled person needs the seat, get up and climb back with your agile young self.
No mention of the known-knowns. It will be dark. If something about a well-lit bus is going to overwhelm you, know that in the dollar van at night there will be no lights on. You will have a seat. You cannot bring your stroller or your wheelchair or your grocery cart. You will have to fit your shit in your lap, but you will have a seat and it will be dark. No one will stare because no one can see you.
Not once have I handed a teenager on the bus my phone. “Here. Call your mom.” More than once in a van, and I avoid them unless I’ve got no money on my MetroCard because of the gamble. Because every time you hail a van instead of waiting for the ubus run the risk that there will be way, way too much Yankee Candle in the air. There’s a black ice air freshener that is especially noxious.
No mention of the core dignity of the transaction. If you need change for a 20, tell the driver well before your stop so you don’t slow everyone down. Otherwise you pass up your $2, less, I think, for seniors, folded neatly, as you approach your stop. Give him a few blocks warning. “Parkside, driver.” / “Lenox Road please.” and he stuffs it in his cup holder, without checking there are really $2. Always he. Almost, anyway. In the back row? Pass it up. It will get there.
He left all that out. Which bothers me as much as the whole “where the MTA won’t go” BS.