Disassociated Press, BIG RIVER, BC: A rogue gang of sinister mimes is being implicated in an evil invisible force field plot that has left a trail of passed up passengers, mashed feet and hoarse bus drivers in transit systems across North America.
Not since the all-mime population of the small European hamlet of Kopfschmerzen accidentally trapped itself in a 20-foot-tall invisible wall that forced its black-and-white-clad residents to survive entirely on invisible bananas has so much nothing created so much havoc.
The issue: a solid block of air that mysteriously springs up across the steps to the rear section of low floor buses the moment that seats get full. Dubbed the “Kuiper Mime Belt” by transportation researchers (based on the mime habit of being trapped by unseen walls), this invisible force field seemingly prevents standing passengers from making the harrowing journey up the last two steps into the completely empty standing area at the back of transit vehicles.
Indeed, no matter how much the bus fills down below–with standing passengers squashing into each other and coagulating into a mass of jammed-up bodies at the rear doors–the menacing nothingness of the Mime Belt somehow prevents people from moving further back.
No one appears to be immune. Even large body builder types able to crush hazelnuts with their heavily muscled thighs seemingly wind up with weakling legs of lead when confronted with the two final steps to the rear bus area once the seats fill.
Transit researchers have looked at a number of reasons behind this puzzling behaviour: social norms? Community customs? An irrational and deep-seated societal fear of standing over rear axles?
Nothing made sense until a splinter group of invisible-car-driving mimes came forward to (mutely) claim responsibility. It seems it is all part of a evil ploy to foster mime culture, build obedience to unseen walls, and increase the market for imperceptible single occupant vehicles. Who else but sinister mimes could have orchestrated such an ominous wall of nothing that creates such real implications for transit systems and their passengers?
And, shockingly, the Mime Belt implications are real: Transit operators face the aggravation of peak hour shifts repeatedly–and often futilely–chanting “mooooovvve baaaccckkkk pleeeeaaaaase” over and over again like withering raspy-voiced yogis. People are left behind at stops in the rain while standing room floats unused at the back of buses. Frustration builds in savvier transit passengers trapped at the front and prevented from reaching the space they can plainly see at the back by the glut of people mashing into the rear door area and refusing to move further.
However, the mime threat is not going unchallenged. Formed under the banner of the Transit Mime Resistance Movement, a number of brave souls are standing up to the invisible mime wall and won’t be cowed into the lower deck crush. Sporting t-shirts and buttons with the revolutionary slogans “I Take it To the Top, Baby,” and “Go Furthur (Back),” these transit standing room ninjas are refusing to let invisible walls stop them. Like a Matrix-awakened Keanu Reeves, they have realized that the first step in defeating the Mime Belt is to recognize that there IS no Mime Belt.
That’s right, as the bus gets full they are moving back and heading up the steps into the rear standing area on their own. They are quite literally stepping up and their actions are better sharing the space–and the love–among everyone that shares their transit vehicle. These Mime Resistance bus culture leaders are taking a stand in making transit work better for everyone.
Resistance members have recognized that their valiant actions aren’t for every passenger. Mobility issues for some may mean they show their solidarity from the lower deck. Also, while there’s plenty of headroom for those back-of-bus pioneers not grazing the 6’4″ mark, NBA all-stars may choose to take a pass.
Even more importantly, Resistance members know that defeating the Mime Belt is only the start. If they can encourage transit passengers to work together to change their individual bus behaviour for the collective good of all, who knows what might happen next? Transit passengers might start working together to demand increased investment from upper levels of government and new local funding sources to make their systems more frequent and buses less crowded to begin with.
In the meantime, with the mime plot leaders gone to ground but their invisible walls still ravaging buses everywhere, the Resistance carries on. They are recruiting members far and wide. Whether making space so that one more person can get on board or paving the way for fundamentally improved transit service, all it takes to join their revolutionary ranks is to Take it to the Top, Baby.
Okay, so is there really a mime plot? Well, duh, no. (Or at least not as far as I know. And mime-lovers, please don’t send me hate mail: I’m pro-mime! Really!! I own a black-and-white striped shirt!!)
And are crowded buses a laughing matter: absolutely, definitely NO!! As I’ve said in these pages many times before, all of the layers in our sustainable transportation networks–transit, walking, cycling–deserve to be quality, beautiful and of a nature that is convenient and accessible to as many people as possible.
Quality systems require funding and that’s something to remember every time you have a chance to have a say in your community’s spending priorities and especially every time you go to the polls and vote, such as in Canada’s imminent federal election and the upcoming one in the U.S. So vote and advocate, dang it, and don’t be shy about letting your voice be heard.
In the meantime, you, too, can help play a role in making transit work better in your community by heading to the back of the bus when it gets full. On your own. Without even being asked. Because you–yes, YOU–are an ace transit rider and that’s what the pros do.
Not only will you find that you will get a seat that much faster–and look beguilingly taller and slimmer while you’re standing up there–you’ll help create more space for everyone and help underscore the key truth of transit: that we’re all part of a community and that we’re all in this together.
AND that we’re a bunch of brave revolutionary souls that don’t fear standing on rear axles.