Thursday, February 04, 2010

lessons learned from riding a mehadrin bus

A Guest Post by Rafi G

The incident described within this post was told to me firsthand by the person to whom it happened and by whom it was witnessed. I am relating only the more relevant details..

A woman took a mehadrin bus yesterday. She got on the bus and sat in the first row of seats with her child. The bus was empty, so she figured it was ok, and the driver didn't care. She said she prefers the front because she gets nauseous in the back, and since the bus was empty...

At a much later stop, the bus suddenly filled up. It was near a simcha hall, so it was probably people getting out of the simcha, or just a very popular stop. One person made a big deal about her sitting in the front and pestered her until she moved. She moved further back, but at another stop this guy told all the women sitting in that area (the first section of the womens area) to move further back as there were some empty seats and if they moved back to fill those seats, the men could have more seats available and some standing would have seats.

There was a bit of a ruckus, with this guy making all the trouble. It seems he felt like he was in charge of the bus and passengers, as he kept moving people around telling them where to sit. When this woman got up to help a different woman with her kids, the guy took her kid and bag off the seat and put them on the floor, freeing up the seat for a man, forcing her to stand much of the way after that.

After that, as the bus came to the later stops and people were disembarking and the bus was less full, this guy was walking back and forth from the front to the back to talk to his wife and see the kids. This woman told me that he was the only man on the bus who spent considerable time walking through the womens section a number of times.

Lesson #1 - mehadrin buses are not about frumkeit. they are about control.

On the same bus ride, it seems that it is pretty common that people find ways to avoid paying the bus fare. Some get on the bus using the back door - as the driver has to open it for the women, and don't bother coming to the front to pay, hoping the driver hadn't seen them or hadn't noticed that they hadn't paid. Others blame the spouse - oh, I thought my husband was paying for me, or my wife was paying for me.

The bus driver already knows the tricks and knows people aren't paying. At some point he pulled the bus over to the side of the road, as he was about to leave the city, and walked up and down the bus asking people why they did not pay and demanding that they do. A large percentage of the people on the bus had all sorts of excuses, but once confronted by the driver, they all paid up.

Lesson #2 - under the guise of frumkeit, they are just trying to cop free rides (aka theft), as it is easier to to do so on a mehadrin bus than a regular bus. While this may not have been the original intent, they are definitely taking advantage of it.

Search for more information about things done under the guise of frumkeit at

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