Riding a bus in Spain is a trip, both literally and figuratively. I take both city buses (run by TUSSAM) and regional / long distance buses (run by Damas and others). These phenomena are most noticeable on the regional / long distance trips.
1. Standing in line.
If you’re waiting to get on the bus, you’d better have your shit together. You also need to be aggressive if you want to get the seat of your choice. You can forget about sitting in the first few seats – more on that later. You’re a foreigner, those are not for you (see #3). Cutting in line is encouraged. Elbowing is promoted. Age does not matter (see #2). If you have to put your equipaje (luggage) beneath the bus, you need to do so authoritatively and without hesitation. Walk yourself right back into that line as if you belong there. If all else fails, just stare straight ahead and act like you belong there. Everyone else will be doing the same thing!
2. Old people
Remember when you were little and your parents taught you to respect your elders? This is including but not limited to opening / holding doors for the elderly, as well as sacrificing your seat in a public place if a little old lady comes onboard. In a courteous world, men let women go first, and likewise the young usher the old ahead of them. Here in Spain you may not have to worry about courtesy, because the old people will be the first ones to elbow you in the ribs. Also, do not expect an apology. After all, it’s your fault you got in line before they did. What the hell were you thinking??
3. Backseat driving
It is not an exaggeration to say that some people wake up early for preferred seating. Sitting at the front of the bus is the most coveted position on a trip, whether it be por pueblo (by town) or larga distancia (long distance). There is an unspoken reservation on these seats – you need to be an established member of Spanish society, preferably in a pair. This applies to two women or a husband and wife. (Women run the show here, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). Your job in these seats is a big one. You must complain loudly at every opportunity, and argue with everyone that boards. It is equally important for you to inspect all passengers for (a) physical beauty, (b) tiredness and (c) validity of destination. You need to advise the driver on the weather, and arrival times. You must pay explicit attention to his driving as well as the driving of others on the road around you. You should applaud or shout affirmations when he does something right (for example, executing an impossible K turn in the tiny pueblo streets). You should inquire about his family, his girlfriend, and his hobbies in the event you have something in common this could lead to an enchufe…. and we all know how important those are 🙂
I’ve only seen this once – but on our way home from Malaga Brett spotted an awesome sticker that showed a stick figure bent over and breaking wind, with a big red X through it. However, it was a little more than 2 hours and unfortunately that rule was broken at least once.
Happy bus riding!