Mass Transit: A survival guide

With ever-increasing gas prices, exorbitant parking costs and the obligatory occasional parking ticket, driving to school is a luxury many of us can’t afford.

With ever-increasing gas prices, exorbitant parking costs and the obligatory occasional parking ticket, driving to school is a luxury many of us can’t afford.

For those Portland State students who can’t drive to school, there is only one real option-mass transit. Whether it’s the MAX or the bus, here are some tips for making your ride as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Dressing the part

When you step on the bus or the MAX, you do not want to be seen as an outsider.

The most important part of fitting in is picking the right outfit. Without going into stereotypes, people that ride the bus dress funny. Maybe that’s not a fair generalization, but there is an inordinate amount of sweat suits on public transportation.

They might have the right idea.

Dressing for comfort is key to enjoying the ride. Wearing tight clothes may look cool, but when you get stuck, the hot, sweaty hell-ride will make you wish you were decked out in a cool Lycra tracksuit.

You’ll also want to make sure you know the stops. Don’t ask another rider when your stop is coming up. Any contact with other TriMet riders should be kept to a minimum. They are like animals in a zoo-avoid eye contact, don’t feed them and for god’s sake, don’t touch them.

Saving money

The cost can add up when riding public transportation every day. A two-zone TriMet ticket costs

$1.75. If you buy two tickets each school day, that’s 10 tickets a week, which will cost you $175 a term.

That’s pretty damn pricy for having to sit on a urine-soaked seat next to sweaty freebasers.

Purchasing a FlexPass from PSU is the way to go. For $150 you can get an unlimited-ride pass that will last until Dec. 31. The retail cost is $193. That $40 you’ll save is enough to buy some pepper spray for protecting you during your forays into mass transit.

Fighting boredom

You’ll likely be spending many hours and minutes commuting to and from school each day, so you should find something to pass the time.

You could obviously bring a book or your laptop with you, but there are more interesting ways to make the ride fly by, aside from watching drug deals out the window.

Use your imagination. Start a sing-along, like in the elementary school bus days. Crackheads, whores and thieves would love to join you in a rendition of “Wheels on the Bus.”

Another fun game is a variation of hide-and-seek. On the MAX, try and get the attention of a TriMet officer checking tickets, then hide behind the fattest person you can find. Of course you’ll have a ticket, but make it seem like you don’t.

When they start to approach you, casually stand up and walk away. They’ll follow you through crowds of riders, causing confusion and dismay. When they catch you, show your ticket and just say you were just stretching your legs.

Protecting your bubble

There’s an art to finding the right seat when you are riding public transit. Once you’ve fought and clawed your way to your own sanctuary-two whole seats to yourself-other riders will try and invade your territory.

Don’t let them. You’ve rightfully claimed those two seats and nothing should make you give them up.

Be sure you sit on the outside seat. People will be less likely to sit next to you if they have to crowd in and rub their crotch and ass in your face.

Putting your bag or purse on the seat next to you seems like it would work, but rarely does. What you need to do is make yourself look scary enough that even the freakiest of freaks would not want to approach you.

Scowl, don’t blink and shake a little. That’s only the first step. If you can get away without face washing, teeth scrubbing and armpit cleaning, then do it-the smell may even get you a whole section of the bus to yourself.

To ward off even the most persistent intruder, keep a worn-out copy of the most frightening vampire erotica you can find and place it on the seat next to you.

If you’ve done your job right, you’ll be left to your stinky, shaky and scary self.

Study up

The trip to school is a perfect time to get that last minute homework done, but you have to know what to study. Do not try and finish your calculus homework or understand the significance of Kurtz’s final words in Heart of Darkness. Instead, save your most mind-numbing busy work for the trip.

Mass transit is best for mindlessly filling out worksheets with the answers in the back of the textbook. You don’t learn much, but it is somewhat productive. If all else fails, just stare at the book blankly: you’re bound to soak up some knowledge that way.