NOTE: I originally wrote this in the winter of 2014. I try to post an updated version of this every year and send the article off to the GCRTA in hopes to receive some answer from them. To this date, I have yet to receive a reply.
Well, through no fault of my own i had to call off work and piss away the day doing fuckall. While the venom is fresh on my teeth and running down my chin, and before i rinse the salty-unsnipped cock taste of the GCRTA’s monopoly on public transportation out of my mouth with piss warm coffee and a deluge bourbon; i need to vent a bit about the culprit who is behind today’s unexpected day-off.
Almost every day you will find me head down, eyes averted into whatever fantasy/scifi book i happen to haggle off of Amazon, minding my own business among the other unfortunate souls you see on the bus. One of those lowbrows who use the bus system to get to-and-fro in my daily life. One of those “over entitled” shove-offs who manspreads with legs agape, and ladyspreads (or womanspread, whatever it’s called) with my satchel (manpurse) and lunch bag (also a manpurse) nested around me, just so any cat-musk wreaking cretin doesn’t get the wrong idea about my personal space issues and thinks i might want a mid-morning chat in between avoiding eye contact and shoving headphones over my ears to tune out their obesity burdened breathing. I am one of those poor blokes who DEPENDS on the bus system to get to social events, to get groceries, and to get to work on a daily basis.
“What, don’t you have car?” You might ask.
“Fuck off,” i might reply. If i had a dollar every time i heard that question i could probably afford a car, and the bail money needed after i ran you over six or seven times just so you’d stop asking me the same stupid question. If i had a car i wouldn’t bother taking a bus, which means i wouldn’t need to write a long winded rant to vent my frustration about busses. (Bussi? Busseses? Is the word “bus” singular and plural like sheep or moose?)
“Why not take a taxi?” You might risk asking, if the aforementioned “running you over for asking a stupid question” hasn’t killed you yet.
Taxi’s in North-Eastern Ohio don’t exist. At least, i don’t think they exist, not really. I’ve seen a few driving around near the airport; once i even saw one downtown, though seeing as it was dark and foggy that could have been a cop car (but i didn’t seen anyone getting shot to death, so that’s still up for debate). This isn’t New York City, or some other city that doesn’t actually exist outside of movies and CSI murder-porn television shows. There isn’t a stream of taxi’s driving around enmasse looking for any bystander to jump out into the street, arm raised, to render services. No, to get a taxi in North-Eastern Ohio you have to call ahead… “But what’s so wrong about that?”
“There you go asking stupid questions again,” i laugh as i throw the car in forward and reverse until your body is smeared into a thin red paste). I’ve tried calling one of the many two taxi services in the area, only to be greeted with nothing more than a warm slap in the ear as they transferred me from operator to operator, until my call was mysteriously dropped into “do not answer” limbo for my overindulgent use of the word “fuck” as both a verb and a noun.
(To quote that mid-western apologist, and long winded author, Patrick Rothfuss: “I don’t swear because i have bad vocabulary, i swear because i have a marvelous vocabulary.”)
So that nicks out driving and taxis. What about walking? Riding a bike? Are you fucking high? Living in the Cleveland area is the equivalent to living in the middle of nowhere, except everything is closer together… Everything except for the places you need to be. Cleveland itself is an empty hub that does nothing more than pollute the ice-machine that is Lake Erie, or get mentioned in terrible songs about rock-and-or-roll. If you want to live in Cleveland you have to work everywhere in the world except for in CLEVELAND. Everything you need is miles and miles away; who wants to marathon it to work everyday? Not to mention the added bonus of our third day in a row of below zero degree weather (Fahrenheit, which equates to negative who-gives-a-shit-my-balls-are-frozen in celsius), that simply isn’t possible unless you think you have too many fingers and toes and wouldn’t mind losing a few of them to frostbite. So no taxis, cars, and walking or riding is definitely out of the picture; the only alternative to all of those is the GCRTA.
“What is GCRTA?” Hey, there you go. You composed a reasonable question without me having to run you over again, though I might still do so out of principle.
Well other than an over inflated blister that pocks the already craggy streets of North-Eastern Ohio, and the only alternative to getting anywhere in this borderline nuclear winter post-apocalyptic city; the GCTRA is an acronym for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, though it looks like it should be the name of some cockeyed pirate hooker from the middle ages. I would come up with some snippy faux acronym, but I’m already winded from the length of this rant and need to take a deep breath into a paper bag and before i gas up the car and run you over a few more times.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is a county funded monopoly that prides itself in being some great innovation while needlessly siphoning a 1% county-wide sales tax on top of a $2.25 services fee for even stepping foot on their “property.” This is a public service monopoly that, like most county funded strangleholds, does little more than add unneeded stress and frustration to an already stressed out and frustrated customer base. On average GCRTA busses are always late, their bus schedules are more misleading than porn website subscription disclaimers, and their customer service attitudes seem to be taken straight from Robert Mugabe’s daily affirmation notebook.
“Comparing something trivial to a dictator, oh how clever of you. What next, are you going to bring up Hitler and the Nazis?” I’m the snippy one here, don’t get cute. At least Robert Mugabe* had the decency to kill 20,000 people instead of making 49.2 million of them stand out in the cold to wait for a nonexistent bus that should hypothetically whisk them off to work, where they could make enough money just to afford the 1% added sales-tax and service fee. Yeah, real decent of him.
Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority is like the Post Office in it’s terms of service, approach, and appearance. So to say the least, they’re misleading when they mention how they serve the community. The idea seems delicious and sweet on the outside, but if you start to suckle on their candy lies you are eventually left with a taste in your mouth so rancid that you hardly have the wherewithal to wonder how the whole operation actually stays afloat. To break it down, you pay for the service with your tax dollars and that’s fairly reasonable. If it’s a service for everyone then everyone should have to pitch in. Even if it is a fairly socialist idea, that’s something even the most conservative of douches can get behind. It’s for the greater good of the city and there’s a sweetness there. A delicate morsel that appeals to every persons attitude towards civil service and responsibility; but soon the candy coating wears away and the insides sting the senses with bitterness, which comes in the form of a service charge. Akin to the cost of stamps; the fee for riding a GCRTA bus or rapid is an ever rising price that has inconspicuously risen at nearly the same rate as minimum wage, with only cosmetic differences to answer any questions about said price increase. And, if the bitterness wasn’t enough to make you cringe and spit the whole thing out, there is the moist, salty center that is their customer service. An elite force of the surly, racist, pirate-esque bus drivers who’s idea of customer service is little more than a snarl and grunt at anyone odious enough to inconvenience them and decide they need to go places.
I’m sorry, were you not expecting anyone to ride on your bus today, Mr. Bus Driver? My apologies for thinking that you’re a civil-servant who makes an average of nearly 25 dollars** an hour (more than 17.50 above minimum wage) for merely driving a fucking bus. How terrible of me for thinking that paying out of pocket for a service my tax dollars already pay for deserves anything more than a quick shot to groin and a spit in the eye. Here, let me place myself underneath your tire so you can kill another person without any actual repercussion. (Look here, just to name one of the many).
After all that, the delicious little morsel of a public funded service starts to look more like a turd coated in a thin layer of turds with a gooey turd center (sorry for that, i’m still distracted by the sting of ice that formed on my inner thighs while i waited for a nonexistence GCRTA rapid to appear this morning). From terrible customer service and awful, confusing bus schedules, to a broken website and wandering near-paranormal bus times; the entire system is nothing more than a broken, bloated, money hungry tick nestled right under North-Eastern Ohio’s savory bits; and seeing as this is a monopoly there is little more we can do than complain about it.
I’ve given up complaining about it to fellow riders, who generally offered up the same type of complaints in response, that is if they weren’t too busy trying to rap or sing off-key to whatever song is gurgling out of their cellphones or trying to buy a cigarette off of me for a measly 50 cents (fuck off, a pack cost nearly 8 dollars after taxes, i’m not running a help-me-get-lung-cancer charity). So i tried calling the GCRTA to voice my complaints directly, getting about the same results as when i called for a taxi. Not to be deterred, i then decided to navigate their Contact Us section on their website, which looks like it was created with Front Page Express Wizard by some public-middleschooler for their computer science mid-term project. I filled out the form, guessing at half of the information (Such as “Bus Driver’s Name” and “ID Number,” the “Busses ID,” the “exact time,” and “location,” the color of your panties: blue, today they’re blue), only to be met with a timely response seven days later that offered up the meanest computer generated apology i have ever read (aside from that time a lady left me via her AOL Instant Messanger away messange stating she had found another lady because of my abhorrent prowess in the sac). So, with nowhere else to turn i tried using Twitter, where i was met with the same kind of “HOW DARE YOU” condemnation that is generally slurred by a pill-junkie stripper after i’ve asked her to differentiate the moral ambiguities between being a stripper who offers handies to big tippers and being a hooker who charges an honest American flat rate. Everywhere i turn, i can see my tax dollars NOT at work and there is literally nothing i can do about it except hand the whore another single and hope that the bouncer isn’t peeking through the curtain of private dance booth.
Now you may be wondering, not asking since i’ve driven over your trachea at the beginning of this rant (yes, i’m running this joke all the way through to the end), “if you there’s nothing you can do about it why are you letting it upset you?”
Because I’m bloody furious that something i spend both tax dollars and pocket money on something i depend on, something i have no choice in using, something that should be simple and easy is obviously broken and no one is doing a goddamned thing to fix it or even acknowledge that there is a bloody problem. I have never received a refund for ill treatment or failed services, nor have i received a response to my complaints other than a shooing motion via Twitter or a computer generate e-mail acknowledging my complaint while failing to do anything to amend the issue in the slightest. I ride the bus almost every-fucking-day, multiple fucking times a fucking day, and i’m treated like insignificant annoyance rather than a paying, faithful customer; and I’m not the only one! They have an annual ridership of nearly 49.2 million people*** (that equates to roughly 110,700,000 dollars in individual fares alone, let that shit sink in, that’s over ONE HUNDRED and TEN MILLION dollars) and they do nothing to effectively help their clientele make it from point A to point B with out giving them a panic attack or allowing them to freeze to death in the process.
So to wrap things up neatly, and because i can’t find another way to use that whole “driving over your corpse because you asked a question” joke one more time; let me close by summarizing in a two sentences what took me nearly an hour and a half to write:
People don’t ride the bus because they want to, people ride the because they HAVE TO . Quit fucking making it more fucking challenging than it fucking has to fucking be, fucking GC-fucking-RTA!
* Robert Mugabe is a terrible person.
**hourly wage average of GCRTA drivers taken from Glassdoor.com
*** GCRTA annual ridership, taken from their Wikipedia page