The Boycott

Something I have learned about riding buses in Lima: it´s an active sport. If you choose to be a passive particpant you will never, ever get a bus to stop for you. In the race to get ahead of other buses that run the same route, some buses will not stop at a designated stop unless passengers are getting off. That´s where the active comes in. You must spot the bus, flag it down and inevitably dodge a few cars to board.

On my ride home, I make a transfer at one of the busiest stops. Of the eight or nine lines that run past that stop, there is only one that will take me towards my house. This provides quite a challenge because for some reason, this particular line rarely has passengers get off at the stop. Meaning I must flag down my bus or I lose my chance. This is difficult when you´re 5´2" and there is a wall of buses blocking your view.

Yesterday I tried to flag down Chance #1, going so far as to walk into traffic (no worries, Mom & Dad, it was a red light) to make sure they saw me. The driver looked at the coin collector. The coin collector looked at me. They both looked at each other and then simply shook their heads. I waited for the light to turn green, hoping they would fly across two lanes to pick me up. They didn´t.

I waited several minutes and finally saw Chance #2, but a few seconds too late. The bus was packed and in the middle lane. The smaller bus couldn´t see me past the sea of larger buses. I waved my arms, ran to the front, ran to the back, waved my arms again but all for nothing. They drove off.

Frustrated, I decided to walk a few blocks and catch the bus at the next stop. I was fuming at the inefficiences of the system and daydreaming of the day when I will once again have a car. I was walking using my angry stride and finally made it to the stop. As I stopped, a bus drove up. In fact, it was Chance #2. I´m certain the coin collector recognized me as "the gringa who was failing her arms like a crazy person at the previous stop". He looked at me and tried to get me on the bus. As if to say, "You wanted to get on before, why not now?"

Because I am boycotting you, that´s why. I prefered to wait five more minutes in the bitter wind than ride with those who had so boldly rejected me. Take that, coin collector guy.