Thomas Bradley/ Campus editor
On Jan. 25, I was standing at a COTA bus stop in the Short North waiting for the next bus to come and take me home after a long afternoon of work. As I was waiting, two men walked by and glanced at me before stopping next to a nearby trash can. Craning my neck, looking down High Street for the next bus, I hadn’t been paying attention to them. When I turned back around, one of the men had his pants pulled partially down and was openly peeing on the trash can next to me, completely unfazed.
Horrified, I took a few steps back, avoided eye contact and waited for them to leave. When they finally did, another unsuspecting commuter took their place by the can, stepping in the small pool of urine collecting next to a crumbled Wendy’s bag.
It was just an average day on the COTA.
Twice a week I ride the COTA to and from my internship. While the journey is only 2 miles, about ten minutes in either direction, I always get off with a new story and renewed appreciation for the independence of my bicycle, which I am banking on using for my commute in the spring.
If you’ve never seen the People of Walmart website, I suggest you visit it immediately. It’s a collection of user-submitted photos of the eccentric people sighted at local Walmart stores nationwide — some of these photos are truly unbelievable, but some days I think COTA could top it. However, for fear of my life, I would never take pictures of anyone on the COTA.
One time I accidently bumped into someone when I was getting on the bus, and he whipped around, glared at me and said a few phrases I don’t think The Lantern would print. So no — please no flash photography on the bus.
My experiences on the COTA all run together, and as time has passed, it has only become more difficult to distinguish between the time I was forced into a one-sided screaming match about political connections I don’t think even Nicholas Cage in “National Treasure” could follow or the time I sat next to a women who was convinced a passing fire truck had struck down 5 pedestrians.
While strange things happen on the bus, I find the thing that makes the COTA more bizarre often has less to do with what people are doing than it does with the people themselves.
For example, three weeks ago I was riding the bus when a man I can only describe as rail-like got on. He was tall — I’m talking basketball player tall — and really thin. Not bothering to look for a seat, he stood at the front of the bus holding on to a pole. This was the best position to admire him from. Dressed in black slacks, a knee-length white trench coat, white stunner shades and a black fedora, this man looked like something sent on a mission from the past.
Every time I ride the bus, I secretly hope he’s there, and to date, he’s my favorite COTA rider.
Since being at college, I’ve learned that there is almost nothing as awful as public transportation; however, I’ve also learned as a writer, there is almost nothing as awe-provoking as the strange people you meet and the interactions you have that could take place nowhere but on a crowded, smelly bus, where you can never be sure a small puddle of water is really just water.