Today’s collection of creeps and weirdos on the bus

I volunteered this morning for a field trip at my daughter’s school so I took a much later bus than usual, where I met a whole new crew of creeps and weirdos for the trip to my office.

I was second to last boarding the bus and I took what I thought was the last seat. The older gentlemen behind me was going to stand, so I offered up my seat because that’s how I was raised. He declined, and it turned out there was one more seat hidden by somebody’s backpack where he was able to sit.

This older man is Joe Jordan, an atmospheric scientist retired from NASA Ames Research Center and now director of the Sky Power Institute in Santa Cruz. He was dressed about like he was for this TEDx presentation he gave in 2011.

My offer of my seat impressed another rider, Karen Fjelstad. Karen studies transnational rituals as a cultural anthropologist at San Jose State University, where she teaches a class on the globalization of culture. Think, for example, on the popularity of “Gangnam Style” in North America. She also studies syncretic religion and has a strong interest in the fusion of food culture in California.

Karen recalled the time she was injured and walking with a cane. She boarded the bus and nobody would give up their seat for her. She might have fumed a little at the lack of courtesy, especially after she looked back and recognized one of her students. Karen reads many papers written by her students, and she noted that her grading can be very subjective. She recalled the episode with humor and a smile but offered this college student Pro Tip: If you see your professor standing on the bus, offer your seat to her.

Did you meet anybody interesting on your drive to work today?


  1. I was finally back on Caltrain today–yay! I ran into Tim who works for the City of Santa Clara and love to talk about urban planning. Tonight I’m hoping to run into Eugene the climate science professor, John the bike/ped manager for San Jose, Jennifer who works for an ad agency downtown or Ben the engineer that I like to geek out with. Yep, lots of creeps and weirdos on transit.

  2. I had a student who told me “My Mom always says there’s always one weirdo on the bus, but so far I haven’ seen him.”

    I don’t know if he, kind of a weirdo himself, realized how funny that was.

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