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Over the River LIX

February 25, 2020

Highlights from my 59th two-wheeled trip to the Great State of New York:

1. The observant reader may realize that it had been nearly three full months since I had last been to the Great State of New York. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it until I got home.

2. Upon clearing customs at the Rainbow Bridge, I made for the Portage Road Transportation Center to catch the #40 bus to Buffalo. Inside, I was able to purchase a day pass from the machine, but when I went to go to the washroom, there was a sign outside stating it was closed until further notice due to all the incidents of vandalism. Given that it’s right in the middle of the ‘hood, I can’t say I was terribly surprised. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop one of the homies waiting for the same bus from answering the call of nature. Rather than visit the public washroom at the Tops at the opposite end of the parking lot, he turned his back and relieved himself alongside the building in full view of the many homes nearby. What a wonderful sight to behold as you’re munching on your Corn Flakes to start your day.

3. Also inside the Portage Road Transportation Center were a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but even they soon packed up their stuff and left. In my many visits to that neck of the woods, the residents don’t impress me as terribly religious people. Call it a hunch.

4. The guy who boarded on Buffalo Avenue near the North Grand Island Bridge gave the driver a song and dance about how he could only afford to pay $1 of the $2 fare. So after the guy went to take his seat, the driver immediately called it in to control before taking off. Hey, they take fare evasion seriously! This is not the Old Country, chapter 9,541.

5. Once on board, said fare evader slept like a baby and was snoring all the way into Buffalo despite the exceptionally bumpy ride.

6. Whereas “like” is quickly becoming the most popular word in the English language, “man” was very popular with the homies in the back of the bus. “I’ve got to go to the dentist, man.” “I know everyone he knows, man.” It got pretty sickening after a while, man.

7. The bus I was on got seriously cut off once on the inbound trip and twice on the outbound trip. Maybe it’s just me, but if I was driving a small car, the last thing I would want to do is cut off a big bus. If there’s a collision, you’re not going to come out ahead. Trust me.

8. Spotted near Church Street was someone with a bumper sticker that read, “I fought in stuff.” Well, good for you.

9. When the automated voice announced that we were pulling into the Metropolitan Transportation Center, the driver belted out, “Yeah, baby!” Maybe she was at the end of her shift. Or she might have had to go to the bathroom.

10. Inside the Metropolitan Transportation Center was a haggard old woman pushing a small cart packed solid with plastic bags. Perhaps she was hoarding them in preparation for the state law banning plastic bags that takes effect next week.

10a. Plastic Bag Lady also seemingly had an affinity for People magazine.

11. Also inside the Metropolitan Transportation Center was a guy sifting through the garbage bins looking to supplement his collection of cans. Kind of like St. Catharines on garbage day, where teams of treasure-hunters hit the streets at the crack of dawn to sift through your trash and recyclables before they get picked up.

12. Around downtown were many posters advertising that Metro bus and rail passes are now available on your phone. Just like with GO Transit and St. Catharines Transit. But not in the Old Country, where they can’t even get their buggy Peggo card to work properly.

Embed from Getty Images

12a. On a related note, Buffalo’s Metro Rail system is getting an upgrade along with plans in the works for an expansion. It’s a light rail system they’ve had for 35 years. While Winnipeg continues to fart around with Rapid Transit.

13. Oh really?

14. While stopping for a picture nearby, one guy asked me, “You guys work for the federals?” You know, I’m pretty sure the feds don’t bother sending cyclists around to take pictures of old buildings.

15. A street many potheads would like to live on . . .

16. Going through Elmwood Village, I spotted a guy coming out of a coffee shop holding a plastic cup filled with what looked to be thick, pea soup green paint. I can’t imagine what it could have been or how much be paid for the privilege of ingesting it.

17. Fart Guy was here:

17a. This couldn’t help but remind me of a former colleague who used to stop by and fart without excusing himself or being the slightest bit apologetic.

18. Someone unimpressed with the USPS . . .

19. For the first time, I stopped into the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. Unlike the case in the Old Country, you don’t have to pass through airport-level security and it’s not a hangout for community residents bums and the like. There was a cafe with vending machines, a water fountain and a microwave to heat up your meal, but on the downside, there was a distinct “the exterminator was just here” odor in the air, the facilities were a bit spartan and the escalator must have been reclaimed from the old Eaton’s building in downtown Winnipeg. Overall, however, from my brief tour, it gets a passing grade.

20. You know what you can do with your “safe spaces” . . .

21. On the way back to the Falls, boarding at Mohawk Street was a woman who made us wait while she fiddled around inside her purse to find her pass. It was broad daylight and the bus was clearly visible from several blocks away, leaving her with plenty of time to fish it out before the bus came.

22. In what has to be a first in Metro history, the driver pulled off to the curb at Amherst Street and waited for a young woman with two kids in tow who was a half block away. Normally, if you’re not at the stop and waving your arms, you’re not getting service, and even when they do stop for you, getting picked up at the curb without having to walk out into the street is a real luxury.

23. A few blocks farther north, recognizing the similarity of the passenger at the stop to the description of a man who had been banned from their buses, the driver stopped to call in and confirm the description before letting him board. The driver later apologized, but I appreciate how seriously they take these things. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

24. Near Riverside Park, the bus was following a car with a bike strapped to a rack. Except that the straps were coming loose. Maybe that’s why the driver turned off Niagara Street.

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