When’s the next bus?

September 22, 2000

Some time ago I talked about how educational riding the bus can be, but I forgot to mention that waiting for the bus can be just as educational as riding one, especially early in the morning. And you can observe a lot more while waiting for the bus because, no matter how frequently they come by according to the printed schedule, the fact is you will always wait at least twenty minutes for the next bus. Buses, because their size and density distorts normal space-time, operate on a schedule that can only be understood by Stephen Hawking. Unfortunately Hawking concerns himself with less important matters like the nature of the universe, what happens to matter in black holes, and whether he’ll get to appear in another "Star Trek" episode.

Here are some things I learned while sitting at the bus stop:

  • The flashing "WALK" sign at crosswalks will last just long enough for pedestrians to get far enough that they can’t turn back, but not far enough to get them out of the way of a massive truck barreling through a red light.

  • People going to work look miserable. Really miserable. A lot of the world’s unhappiness could be cured if people didn’t have to go to work.

  • People going to work are so miserable they don’t know they’re being watched. It’s amazing how ubiquitous nose-picking is on the morning commute. Nose-picking is closely followed by teeth picking.

  • Loud music, especially music with heavy bass, distorts a car frame. Every car that went by me with its speakers thumping was bent in a bizarre, downward curve. Apparently such heavy bass also breaks glass–which explains why none of these cars have windows, and all have cracked windshields.

The best part, though, about sitting and waiting for the bus is I got to see a character known only as "Dancin’ Man". Dancin’ Man is a local phenomenon. He’s a guy who walks up and down the street serenading the traffic, smiling, and even blowing kisses to the cars going by. No one has any idea who he is or what he does, but early in the morning, he’s the happiest person on Earth, so obviously he’s not going to work.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Writing Tips

  1. Avoid alliteration. Always.

  2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

  3. The adverb always follows the verb.

  4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

  5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

  6. Remember to never split an infinitive. 

  7. Contractions aren’t necessary.

  8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

  9. One should never generalize. 

  10. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know." 

  11. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

  12. Be more or less specific.

  13. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

  14. The passive voice is to be avoided.

  15. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

  16. Who needs rhetorical questions?

  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

  18. Don’t never use a double negation.

  19. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.

  20. A writer must not shift your point of view.

  21. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)

  22. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!!!!!

  23. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

  24. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

  25. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; they’re old hat; seek viable alternatives.

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