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The Ten Commandments of CATA

White Loop

Whether you’re hitching the Blue Loop to an 8 am across campus, drunkenly clamoring aboard a late night White Loop, or making the painstaking hike to Wal-Mart on the V, there are certain unwritten rules when it comes to riding the bus. We’ve all seen these rules violated, and have inwardly screamed obscenities at the tactlessness of some riders lacking CATA etiquette. Here’s how to avoid being targeted with angry glares on the bus — or in other words — how not to be a CATA douche.

1. Thou shalt not scream on thy cell phone.
No one wants to hear you asking your Mommy what to do about your rash (“It just itches sooooo badly!”), having phone sex with your boyfriend (“Mmm, do you miss me, baby? Yeah, tell me how much you miss me…”), or regaling last night’s epic escapades to your buddy (“Dude, Edward 40 Hands, kegstands, and a shot-ski. It was sick!”). Seriously, is that phone call so important that it can’t wait until you exit the bus? Just text/tweet/Facebook message/G-Chat/utilize whatever other silent method of communication you’ve got, and save everyone else the pain.

2. Thou shalt move the entire way to the back.
We’ve all had to argue with the bus driver about getting behind that ungodly yellow line. The arguments usually go something like, “But look at all of the room back there! Six of me could fit behind that yellow line right now!” So the bus driver shouts monotonously, “Keep movin’ back, the whole way.” And the line stands still, because some jerk didn’t want to move from his comfy position three feet from the very back of the bus, so no one else could move. Come on, just move the whole way back so everyone can fit behind the line.

3. Thou shalt not play thy music so damn loudly.
Yes, it is considerate of you to have your headphones on. Thank you for being socially conscious. However, even when you are all the way at the front of the bus, if your iPod is turned up to maximum volume, all of us can still hear you blaring Waka Flocka from the very back. If you need music to get you through the ride, that’s fine, just keep it at a reasonable volume.

4. Thou shalt not take up more room than necessary.
You’ve got a seat, a lap, and some room in front of your feet. Utilize those spaces for your backpack, purse, shopping bags, takeout food, or whatever else you decided to bring with you onto the bus. The seat next to you is meant for a person, not for your personal items. People shouldn’t have to ask you for a seat if there is one available. And even if you’ve got something against the window seat, if people are getting on and there are only a few places left to sit, move in.

5. Thou shalt offer thy seat to the elderly and disabled.
This doesn’t need to be expanded upon. Don’t be an idiot. No one cares how heavy your books are or how much your legs hurt. Get up and move for the geriatric and handicapped.

6. Thou shalt not stuff thy face obnoxiously.
So, you have back-to-back classes, and this ten-minute bus ride is the closest thing you get to a lunch break. That’s understandable. But damn, choose something that you can eat quietly! The kid sitting next to you shouldn’t be subjected to your frantic chomping and slurping. And whatever you’re nomming on, make sure it doesn’t leave a mess behind — there’s a reason you aren’t technically allowed to eat on the bus.

7. Thou shalt wait thy turn.
While you’re waiting for the bus to arrive, a line begins to naturally form. It is not okay to cut that line just because you’re “in a hurry.” This rule is especially important if you live somewhere like The Pointe or Nittany Crossing, where often there are more people waiting for the bus than can fit onto it. If someone made the effort to get to the bus stop before you, they deserve to get on the bus before you. Period. The same goes for the libidinous East Halls crowd on a Friday night heading off to Fratland.

8. Thou shalt not impede others’ exit strategies.
The terrified freshman shouldn’t have to try to elbow his way through the masses just to get out the back door. Be kind and make a path for him, and for anyone else clearly trying to get off of the bus. Also, when the kid next to you starts gathering his stuff, stand up so he can get out — don’t make him ask you to let him through. Most importantly, wait for people to exit the bus before you try to enter it. I understand that you’re just excited that the bus finally arrived (ten minutes late), but the people getting off are pissed that it ran behind too, and they need to get off before you can get on.

9. Thou shalt maintain composure.
We’ve all seen that scantily clad girl climb through the front door of the bus, make eye contact with someone in the back, and start screaming “NOMYGOD LAUREN! I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN LIKE FOREVS, BABYGIRL!” as she pushes her way past thirty people to get next to her BFF. Please, don’t be that girl. On the same note, if you happen to make eye contact with someone you’re not so crazy about while in an inebriated state, try to refrain from punching them in the face or hurling profanities at them over the heads of innocent bystanders. Drunken ass-kicking has no place in public transit.

10. Thou shalt not throw up.
This is the most sacred of all CATA commandments: Do. Not. Vomit. Those who throw up on the bus deserve to be permanently banned from the bus. They should also be shunned. Keep your shit together until your stop, then feel free to hurl in the bushes or something. Even if you break all of these other commandments, for the love of God, keep the bus system vom-free.

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About the Author

Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).

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