The Adventures of a Frequent Passenger by Maroua cherkaoui, Morocco

Everyone who knows me, knows how lazy I am. The best example of my laziness is that I registered to take driving lessons a year ago, and only went to two classes. Therefore, I am still stuck with public transportation to get around, which is easier than making an effort to drive anyway.

During my years of experience with public transportation, I had the time to compile  a list of people that you might encounter during your trips:

  1. Beggars – In any bus or taxi station involving the transportation from one city to another, you will meet many beggars who come up with fantastic stories. You will definitely fall for one of them… just like I did. One day a man came on the bus I was in and told  the saddest story. With tears in his eyes, he spoke about how his three children died in the hospital and how he needed money to pay for the transport to get them to his village in order to bury them properly. I will not lie to you; I had tears in my eyes and gave him all the cash I had on me, which wasn’t a lot, since it was the end of the month.  I soon became a regular passenger on the bus, and so I met the man again. The last time I saw him, he was telling the same story but slightly differently; he now wanted to buy medicine for his three sick children. In fact, there were three different beggars who were always hanging around the bus station and told people fascinating stories. Conclusion: don’t necessarily believe what people tell you.
  2. Passengers with kids – Some people might say that I am exaggerating or that I’m being unreasonable, but I ask those people to take a one hour ride with a kid yelling and hitting the seat you’re sitting on. Trust me, you will wish you walked home instead of taking the bus. Some people will tell me that kids and babies are not ALWAYS crying… By my answer is that the chances that they will wake up during your 1 hour trip are very high… and they will make your life miserable. It is especially annoying if the parent doesn’t do anything about it and just looks at you saying: ” Sorry!” You can forget about relaxing on your way home
  3. Nosy passengers – In every ride, you will encounter someone who is nosy and wants to know everything about you. If you’re texting; they will try to read over your shoulder and they will ask you about your life: ‘What are you doing here? Are you visiting someone? Are you married? Why not? Where do you live?’ The interview never ends, even when you try to ignore them, they will find a way to talk to you by asking for example what time it is, or reminding you at what time the bus will reach its destination… especially if you didn’t ask them anything.   Always brace yourself for such passengers, keep your headphones on and act asleep.
  4. Harassers – Sometimes a stranger will decide to sit next to you. If you act nice to him and answer his two first questions, which are ‘Is this is the bus going to this place?’ and ‘Is it your first time taking it?’. This way, you will fall into the harasser trap. He will keep on annoying you with questions, might ask for your phone number, and eventually he might act asleep, leaning against your shoulder. If he is even creepier, he might even start touching you. I have been through all of this in my first days riding the bus, but I soon learned to never answer and hit his head if he acts sleeping and change seat.
  5. Elderly passengers – The nicest people you will meet on the bus are older passengers. If you’re lucky enough to sit next to an elderly passenger, you will hear some great old stories, receive valuable life advice and hear some beautiful prayers. You just need to sit and be nice. I always had great experiences with old passengers, just by helping them find their seat, or help carry their bags. They are usually very grateful, which is something that’s missing in our societies nowadays.

My experiences so far were and still are nice. When you become a frequent passenger, you start being spoiled by the drivers and even the bus or taxi controllers. They get you the best seats and make exceptions for you when there are actually no more seats available. Yet, you will never get rid of the people mentioned above… Ready for your next ride?!

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