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My Hobbesian Bus Stop

October 21, 2010

This may be a little different than what the Professor expects, but I enjoyed writing it and if it gets me the credit that would be great!

When I finally get out of my last class of the day I hurriedly make my to the C.C. little bus stop, I cringe as I see a huge cluster of students already waiting, just as desperate as I am to get back to our dorms on North Campus to get an early start on homework; hoping to get it done at a reasonable time today. I know its’ going to be nearly impossible to get on the first Bursley-Baits bus, there’s way to many students here to pack onto one, maybe even too many to fit onto two buses; and, of course, I’m at the back of the mob.

I quickly do the math in my head, one bus every ten minutes; I’m not going to get on the first bus, and maybe not the second. It could easily be 20+ minutes before I get on a bus, and it’s the first true day a fall, high of 50 degrees with a strong breeze and of course I’m way to tough to wear a sweater, let alone a jacket. No, I tell myself I must get on this bus. After a few minutes of suffering the cold, I see that familiar and friendly big blue bus with Bursley-Baits lit up on the top round the corner. I hear a harmony of anxious and relieved gasps erupt from my fellow students. This is where the State of Nature begins.

The mobs split in two, people rush to the spot where they believe the doors will be once the bus stops. Fortunately, not to brag, I am a master at this particular form of art. So I lower my shoulder, keep my head down, and force my way through the cluster of other desperados to the spot I believe will give me the best opportunity to get on this bus. I may have knocked a few people around pretty good during this journey, but hey, I know they did the same to others. There is an unwritten rule known by all students in regards to the bus stop. There are no rules when it comes to getting on the bus; you have to do what you have to do. I finally hear the wretched screech of the buses brakes grind, as it shudders to a stop. And once again, I have picked the perfect spot! The bus door is right in front of me! So I start to move off the side to create a path for the students leaving the bus (of course using my body as a shield to prevent any sneaky students from slipping past me), but the students that are unfortunate enough to be at the back of the mob start to thrust forward creating a huge wave of pressure that crushes the victors of the bus stop mayhem and me into the unopened bus door. The door finally opens, but the exiting students have nowhere to go. After a moment of confusion, a short stout little lady gets a brief running start, and truck sticks her way through the mob. The rest fellow her lead, and when the last person gets off the bus, the mayhem continues as the students battle for seats. I earned myself a nice comfy window seat, and I do not regret what I had to do to get there. I was in a “condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man”. And life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”, so I’m going to get on that bus, whatever it takes.

  1. adamarcher permalink
    October 21, 2010 6:19 PM

    Haha, this is really true and funny.

  2. emilywiho permalink
    October 21, 2010 7:50 PM

    That’s a very interesting way of interpreting the state of nature! I found your blog post a very enjoyable and fun read. I think it’s quite interesting that even though we have a common authority, we are nonetheless always driven by our passions (in this case your desire to get on the bus) and that our passions easily control our actions.

    I’m very thankful that I never have to take the bus.

  3. October 21, 2010 7:59 PM

    Why wouldn’t I like this? I might, of course, lament the world in which this kind of behavior is successful. (Contrast this to be orderly behavior we have on the AATA buses — probably because reputations matter on a bus you take regularly, year after year, with the same people.) And I might keep this in mind when students ask me, “So, this Chris guy, he’s a cooperative dude, right?” But, heck, if I ever have to take a bus to North Campus, I’ll go with Chris.

  4. Glterryn permalink
    October 22, 2010 1:16 AM


    I found your post both entertaining and creative. I really like how you took a real life example of the state of nature and turned it into an interesting and dramatic story. I too have had the misfortune of riding the bus to North Campus. (To be fair, i only ride when i need to get to a soccer game. But that is neither here nor there). In addition to your analysis of the situation, I would like to add a Locke-oriented analysis to the mix.

    I believe Locke is rolling in his grave every time students board a crowded bus. Those who have waited through one or two buses (labor) are pushed aside by more bold (dare i say inconsiderate) riders. In this way, the actions of some negate the labor of others, preventing any attempt at riding the bus.

    Also, I personally get frustrated when someone uses one seat for themselves and one seat for their backpack. As Locke argues, anyone has the right to provide for themselves, but they must do so in moderation and with the good of others in mind. Never the less, some students ignore Locke’s theory and selfishly abuse their right to property.

    Perhaps next time i will follow Locke’s description of a state of war and capture a seat through the use of force… or at least use force to entice that jack@$$ to move his backpack.

  5. Lorig Stepanian permalink
    October 26, 2010 4:44 PM

    This post was refreshing, entertaining and entirely true. Although I was fortunate enough to live on the Hill my freshman year, I have heard many similar stories regarding the chaos which is the Bursley Baits bus. Your means of getting a spot are rather Machiavellian; the ends of being on a warm bus in the shortest amount of time, justifies your method of shoving your way to the front of the line. Although this may seem impolite to many, I would argue that in the Hobbesian state of nature (the line for the Bursley Baits bus) this sort of machiavellian strategy is essential to survival. In this situation, it is survival of the fittest, and no one wants to be left behind.

  6. darriensherman permalink
    October 26, 2010 7:19 PM

    I loved your creative writing piece! I really enjoyed your article because you nicely drew a parallel between Hobbesian concepts and your everyday life. I also have to add that the bus stop is not the only place where you’ll run into a Machiavellian type society. Come finals week, you’ll find that finding a study place in the UGLY or Grad library demonstrates another Machiavellian example on campus. Every cozy reading chair is taken in the grad and its impossible to find a descent open seat except for the one that’s way in the corner across from the one person everyone avoids to sit next to. The person who’s noisily rustling the paper to their jimmy john’s sandwich and slurping down their venti coffee from Starbucks. To avoid these kind of Machiavellian situations, I find my peaceful commonwealth on the sixth floor of the stacks.

  7. alifoti permalink
    October 27, 2010 8:36 PM

    This article is so true! I always thought of myself as a someone who saw the good in others, subscribing to Solnit’s view on human nature as interdependent and compassionate, but after taking this bus everyday, this example of the Hobbesian state of nature constantly stuck out in my mind in the debate over human nature.

  8. Samantha Eisler permalink
    November 8, 2010 11:42 AM

    hilarious. As a north campus resident myself, I know exactly what youre talking about. When it comes to making it back to my dorm during the peek hours of the day, all bets are off in terms of civility. Simply put, youve got to do what youve got to do. This state of nature that occurs at the bus stop is a sort of everyman for himself mentality. I really enjoyed your comparison and I found it really relatable!

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