Someday You Might Have to Survive the Apocalypse With People Who Take Public Transportation

When I was in 8th grade, I went to the movies with some friends. Assuming you can get a ride with a parent who doesn’t try to make conversation with anyone, going to the movies with some friends in 8th grade feels like a big deal. There’s no chaperone. You can buy snacks. You get to sit in the dark with boys, probably. If the 19-year-old working at the ticket window hates their job enough, you might be able to purchase a ticket to see an R-rated movie (btw there’s a reason I’m saying “movie” and not “film” and that should be apparent fairly shortly).

If I remember correctly, that evening I went to the movies with my two best girlfriends and my two best guy friends, and because we hadn’t learned enough about feminism yet, we thought we had to let the guys pick the movie and this is how come we ended up seeing “Daylight,” which is a Sylvester Stallone movie (not film, obviously) about escaping the New Jersey Tunnel after a disastrous toxic waste explosion and flooding.

“Daylight” is a classic tale about one man using his skills (?) to help an unlikely group of survivors to safety, complete with the aforementioned explosion as well as a scientific allegory to evolution, I think, that doesn’t allow the annoying assholes of the group to survive the New Jersey Tunnel toxic waste explosion. Also Stallone’s character’s name is “Kit,” which, I mean, c’mon.

I would not recommend that anyone go out and rent “Daylight” in this day and age, not least because I suspect that, along with much of the pop culture I consumed at age 13, I doubt it has aged well. Mainly it’s just a terrible movie, although I admit that pieces of it have stuck inside the trashier folds of my brain for the past 20 years, and because of this, I think of “Daylight” and the apocalypse every time I take public transportation.

Which is a lot, incidentally, because I cannot afford to fix the brakes on my car or park at work and as a result I commute solely by bus and light rail. For the most part, I enjoy public transportation. It has its downsides, but overall I see it as an example of a civic effort that serves the community and reduces carbon emissions, which is why I always vote to give it more money even though sometimes I would like to throw a brick at the side of a particularly late bus. The point is that I spend much of my time on public transportation, so much time that I have accepted that I might die on it someday, and that should the apocalypse occur during the hours between 6am and 7am or 4pm and 5pm on a weekday, I will likely be experiencing it while onboard a city bus.

In every tale of surviving the apocalypse, there exists a group of survivors. Man does not live in a vacuum and we are social creatures, so our instinct is to band together and fight it out, at least until two survivors start hooking up and another one goes crazy. So when it’s raining outside and I’m crammed onto a bus with a handful of weirdos, I realize that these will be the people with whom I will be tasked with surviving the end of the world.

There’s the guy who’s been reading the same alpine trails pamphlet for, seriously, the last 2 years. He sometimes alternates a James Patterson novel, but he’s always at the same mid-point and I never actually see him turn a page. I predict that he will be one of the first casualties of the apocalypse, as he has no actual survival skills and it’s possible that he cannot read safety equipment instructions.

There’s the guy who looks like a frumpier Louis CK who gets mad if anyone gets on the bus before him. The only person he likes is a woman who politely listens to him list all the sports he used to play, a sad and pointless list that always culminates in “yeah and then I dropped a jar on my big toe.” This guy will survive for a short period of time but will eventually perish when actual running is involved.

There’s the woman who breastfeeds her son at the front of the bus on most mornings, which wouldn’t bother me so much except the kid is maybe 5 and I’ve seen him eating an Sausage McMuffin before. That he was holding himself. This woman is going to be the altruistic one who sacrifices herself for her kid’s survival, although I do worry about the availability of breastmilk or McMuffins in the event of the apocalypse.

There are the people who use an entire bus seat for their purse or suitcase or tote bag even during rush hour, but these people will be amongst the first to die because the rest of us will beat them to death with their belongings. We’ve been fantasizing about it for years.

There’s the couple who boards the bus 3 days a week and are likely on their way to the methadone clinic, and aside from them smelling like they eat wet cigarettes for breakfast, I feel like they’d have a pretty good shot at survival, as long as this isn’t a movie with one of those dumb morality messages.

There’s the manspreading guy in the morning and a different manspreading guy in the afternoon, and I know they feel like their powerful, girthy thighs would definitely survive the apocalypse, but also I feel like their messenger bags and general sexism would get in the way because I sure as hell ain’t pulling them out of the flaming wreckage of the route 17 coach.

There’s the guy who wears the same cologne as the boy I loved in 7th grade but also wears a newspaper like a hat, and to be honest I think that guy has already survived a whole hell of a lot so I’m counting on him to lead our pathetic little group to relative safety, and by “relative” I mean a tribe of other survivors who have already formed a feudal society in which I might be expected to haul water, cast spells or tend to genetically-mutated hogs as a way to earn my keep.

The point is that it’s good to have a plan in case of apocalypse, and to include in your plans anyone who surrounds you on a day-to-day basis. Co-workers. Baristas. The people who pick their nose in the slanted afternoon light after you’ve had a really hard day and are just trying to ignore the shitty headphones of the lady who sits two seats ahead of you and has never heard the term “a reasonable volume.”