Strangest people on public transit.

We all have stories about public transit. I am no exception. I’ve brung countless people to laughter and tears with my stories of the man who thought his nintendo controller was a combination cellphone and broadsword, the man who got off and on a bus, at every stop, for an hour, and hit on a girl in my class once per stop, and the man who tried to seduce one of my friends…

With a plastic dinosaur.

I want to know some Dopers’ public transit stories.

I once saw a guy jerkin off in the corner of the last car on a W train.

I guess W stands for Wanker.

Fortunately, where I live, many of the public-transport users are of the whacko kind.

It would take a serious dissertation to relate all of the stories.

There are no ‘strangest’ characters…only the Freakazoid of the Day Award.


There was a period of two months in which I saw guys jacking off on the train roughly every other day. Two of them were brave enough to do it a few inches away from my face while I was sitting down, in pretty full cars, with people sitting right next to me. No one said a thing.

Another guy had brought along a coffee cup in which he tried inconspicuously to collect his seed. There was one I wouldn’t haved noticed, except that his legs went into weird spasms as he finished.

I live by a bus route notorious for it’s special passengers, the dread “105”.

There are a recurring cast of characters, like the old guy who talks with a Nova Scotian accent to himself, non-stop at a mile a minute rate. He’s very animated about it, and he really talks to himself. As in he aswers questions, and laughs at jokes he tells. He’s like a whole family of people having a conversation all on his own.

There’s smelly philosopher, who sat writing something in his little pad of paper for a good half an hour, then he turned to look me in the eyes and said “I’ve been thinking about how important friendship is to today’s society…blah blah”. I caught a look at his pad, and it only had the word “fireman” written on it, a few hundred times.

There’s “I bet you think I’m Crazy!” crazy lady, who’ll loudly spout out some randon non-sequitor and then tell anyone who’s gaze she can catch “I bet you think I’m crazy, but I’m not!”. Nutter.

Lastly, the one that creeps me out the most, I have dubbed “The Zombie!” (A friend of mine called him “Scallops”, but I have no idea why. “Zombie” at least makes a little sense.) “The Zombie” wanders the neighborhood at all hours of the day, looking old and tired. He is in his sixties, has ghastly grey skin, and is always stubly, never shaven, never bearded. He wears a t-shirt that is threadbare and shows his sagging pectorals off. He once moaned as he shuffled past me and sounded like a zombie from the “Resident Evil” video games, thus the name. I have lived and worked along this bus route for the past 6 years. I see Zombie about once a week for about a half an hour on the bus, every week. The sound “Mweuuuhn” is the only sound he’s made, ever. I think he’s hungry for brains.

There are more, but they’re just generic crazy. Not original characters.

The talking to himself guy is really unique, I agree Scott. But he’s so… merry.

You should tell the story about the people in the 51 line.

Here’s my favourite story:
I was taking the metro. Sitting across fromme was a woman, maybe 40 years old, wearing a tatty suit with what looked like nothing underneath the jacket (no shirt). She was eating a red freezie. A little odd, I thought, but hey, when I’m 40, I want to be eating freezies, although they will be blue.

We got off at the same stop, one with a long slightly sloped moving sidewalk up to the exit. She sat down cross-legged in front of me, and rocked back and forth slightly. Yeah, defitinitely odd. Okay, maybe she’s a free spirit.

And then she threw her half-eaten freezie over the side of the railing. Just… threw it. It must have landed on the stairs (a staricase that is used). Oooooookay.

As we approached the top of the moving sidewalk, she stood up, and looked at me.

“That wasn’t a very nice thing that you did,” she informed me reproachfully, and then walked off.

The guy standing behind me was just as confused as I was.

I was riding the Bloor-Danforth TTC line eastbound once, and listening to OK Computer by Radiohead on my discman. As usual, I was quietly drumming on my knees while listening to the song. I glanced up at one point, and saw an extremely skinny black man in a beatnik-style leather outfit. He had a goatee, too. Anyway, he was spasming and making strange gasping noises. I was going to get someone to call a doctor, but then it occured to me that he was dancing to my drumming. So I stopped. He stopped, too. At the next stop, he got up, walked over to me, bowed, said “thank you” in a deep voice, waddled over to the door… And smashed one of the fibreglass screen-things that are placed next to the doors of every train.

On the subway train, I watched a man floss then started to gargle, then he got off at next stop, I guess to spit.

Another time a very fashionably dressed twenty something lady who was sitting beside me decided to take her pants off. I was looking down reading the new harry potter book, and out of the corner of my eye, I see her ass crack. I tried not to laugh, and kept thinking omg this girl is undressing. I think by accident she pulled her skirt and her pants off when she meant to only pull one down. But seeing as how I was beside her I got full exposure to her bum. What was funny was that this was a kind of crowded train, and she acted like everything was normal. ladida im just changing my clothes…please ignore… Then she got off at the next stop.

Well, it wasn’t exactly on public transportation, but I met a guy on an El platform in Chicago who had the unmistakable look of a Crazy Homeless Person and kept staring at me as if I was the strangest thing he’d ever seen in his life. After doing my best to ignore him for a while, I asked rather frostily if he wanted anything, which sent him into about a five-minute tirade:

“Whatchoo talkin’ about, girl? Now what would I want from you? You a baby. You a child. What you think I want from you? What do you know about what a man wants, anyway? You a child. Get on the train. Whatcha doin’ out here? How old are you? I don’t want nothing from you. Get on the train. You a child.”

Uh, OK. (I should mention that I was twenty-six at the time, and there were no trains in sight for most of this monologue – I was more than happy to take his advice when one finally did appear. He was still standing on the platform talking to himself as the train pulled away.)

And then there was the time in Seattle when I accidentally sat in what must have been a section of the bus reserved for the mentally deranged. One guy sat quietly in the corner most of the time but occasionally shouted random obscenities; another seemed nice enough but obviously hadn’t washed or changed his clothes in years; a third spent most of the trip tearing up newspapers and growling, but occasionally became lucid enough to ask everybody for “money to ride the bus” – which would have been more convincing if he hadn’t already been on the bus.

Takes all kinds.

At the bottom of an escalator on the London Underground, I saw an elderly, Black man playing guitar and singing Bob Marley tunes. He reeked of pot, and was apparently so stoned that he could remember the words to the song. The escalator went down for almost an entire building storey, and the only lyrics I were treated to were “Eeevery little thiing…(two minutes pause with confused guitar strumming)…is gonna be all riigghhttt.” He seemed nice enough, but didn’t have much change tossed in his little bag. I wonder why.

A man carrying a didgeridoo once got on a bus I was riding. As we rode, he started to play. He seemed to be trying to play softly, but they do tend to reverberate. After about five minutes, the bus driver told him to stop playing, but the man kept on playing softly at intervals, almost as though he couldn’t help it. The bus driver finally kicked him off after about fifteen minutes.

I liked the didgeridoo guy a lot better than the average run of public transit crazies.

I met a new friend as I rode to church on a Portland train, Easter Sunday. A very smiling man.

“Goin’ downtown?” he asked me.
“Yes, I’m going to Holy Rosary.”
“AH! Goin’ downtown for TURKEY DAY!”
“Eat some TURKEY on TURKEY DAY! Mmmm… turkey DAY!”

We have a crazy lady who rides all the local bus routes, is obsessed by the bus company and the drivers, constantly talks to the driver about all the other bus drivers, telling long involved stories about how another driver disrespected her or was late with the bus one time, and relating her plans to sue the bus company in the small claims court. I used to take the bus to work and she’d be on once or twice a week.

Once when I was taking the 6 train downtown in NYC, a woman in a jogging suit boarded my car and proceeded to dance through the aisle. Lots of dramatic pauses when she would leap onto a seat and throw her arm into the air, stop with her back and hands pressed against the doors in a “seductive” style, etc. Normally one is not supposed to take notice of one’s fellow straphangers, but she had such flair it was hard not to look, and a few of us were looking at her and then each other with bemused smiles. Well okay, I thought, at least she’s having a good time dancing to the music… and then I realized she had no headphones on, no sign of a Walkman. The music was all in her mind.

On another occasion, a guy walked into the subway car from the next car up (while we were moving) and proceeded to make the most horrendous screeching noise with a violin. After about 15 seconds of this, he stopped and eloquently made his case for people offering him money NOT to play. He had such sense of style about his pitch that nearly everyone laughed, and some folks did actually give him change.

My brief descent into the outer fringes of Hell involved getting stuck on a Greyhound bus from Corvallis to Portland, Oregon (about 2.5 hours, I think) next to a guy who claimed to be a Hungarian military historian. The entire trip he went on and on about Russian artillery strength or some such (in minute detail) during their advance across eastern Europe in '45. It might have been an interesting topic under other circumstances, but he had the odd combination of a droning monotone voice and a weird excited gleam in his eye… still freaks me out a little bit to think about it.

There’s a guy who takes the 43 bus in Manchester (England) who thinks himself a martial artist and has imaginary fights with himself every day on the bus!

I was on the train late at night in NYC, my friend was escorting me back to Penn Station. So we sit in the train car, and my friend goes “let’s move to the next car” and so I did without question. Once we were reseated, I asked him why we moved. He said “the man across from us was furiously masturbating.” How I didn’t notice that, I have no idea…but I’m convinced that there’s no better adverb to describe masturbating than furiously.

ah, fond memories of that year I lived in Boston.

I lived on the Brookline branch of the Green Line (C Train), and one time I got on there was a man there without pants on. Other than that, he was completely normal. The only strange thing was that he genuinely did not seem to realize he didn’t have any pants on. I got off the train once I realized that, but he was still there on my return trip (slim odds that we’d be on the same train twice, but there you have it).

What beats that though is the Green Line through Allston (B Train). Once I saw this guy standing in the doorway wearing a rainbow shirt, rainbow fanny pack, rainbow necklace, rainbow jeans, and rainbow rings and sunglasses. In other words, he was doing everything he could to make us think he’s gay (whether or not it’s true). As if that wasn’t enough, he was trying to draw even more attention to himself by pretending to be a radio DJ and spin records… REALLY desperate for attention, this one was.

Thanks to you, ginger ale just shot out of my nose! :smiley:

On a flight in New Zealand (not exactly public transportation in the traditional sense but anyway…) a guy in the aisle seat a few rows up stared intensly at his open palm for perhaps 10-15 minutes - as if he had never seen his hand before.

Sounds like this woman that was on the bus one day. She got on with her little kid in a stroller. The bus driver told her that she would have to raise the seat and put the stoller there, so everyone would be able to get past her. She did so, acting slightly rude, IIRC. When it came to her stop, she got off, asking for the number of the bus. I couldn’t really hear anything after that, but the driver got off, and came back a minute later, looking confused. She asked us if we had any idea what would have upset the woman so badly(insert multiple replies of ‘no’), and told us how the woman had been yelling at her to ‘Stay away from her and her kid’, and other stuff like that…shakes head