Page4 Thursday, September 16, 1982
Riding the bus:The joke s on
By Gary Schmitz
The Michigan Daily.
It was a typical late night bus ride back to
North Campus. There were the usual assor-
tment of red-eyed studiers, drunks, punks, and
moviegoers like myself. As we roared down
Catherine Street on the detour route, a friend of
mine wondered out loud why the fuck we
couldn't take the shorter route. We watched
cars turn onto Fuller, disregarding the detour
signs that dragged us down Catherine, to
Division, Plymouth, and finally back around to
Hubbard and home.
It was a long ride-scenic, yeah, but too
damn long when it was late and the drunks
were hanging their heads out the window and it
was too dark to see the scenery anyway. So the
bus rambled and the darkness was a cover for
the minor dramas of the participants within.
LEANING back in his seat with two fingers
:on the wheel, the bus driver turned us around
corners and bounced over bridges. With every
bump the passengers were jarred in sync, per-
forming a minor version of the mechanical bull
ride at Gilley's.
We finally hit the corner of Hubbard and
Murfin and wheeled right toward the first stop
at Bursley. The driver clicked the light switch
on, bringing us out of our private conver-
sations. A girl in the back rubbed herleyes. A
drunken freshman cringed at the glare and
held one hand over his eyes while feeling his
way toward the door with the other.
I looked across the aisle at a person
gathering his books together. He wore thick,
Clark Kent glasses which he was constantly
pushing back up with a forefinger. Without
thinking, I pushed my own thick glasses back
up from where they had slipped. His red pants
were too short, revealing white socks and old
tennis shoes. His sparse mustache and short,
chopped hair guaranteed that he would always
look out of place.
HE TUGGED at his pants and headed for the
front door, while others waited in line to exit
looked around and wondered how one skinny,,
short-haired, unkempt kid could cause.
strangers to unite. And with such a simple,,
question, one that any of us might have asked,
the driver. .
From the middle of the bus a sophomore
showed off his sohpomoric wit. "C'mon, Poin-
tdexter, get off it." The girl he was sitting next
to giggled loudly. The rest of the passengers:
joined in, glad for the chance to share in a joke,
that was not at their expense.
I felt a surge of red come into my face when I,
heard the kid's voice come from outside the-
door. "But I just wanted to know why you
couldn't drive on Fuller. I'm pretty sure the:
roads are good and ..."
AND I NEVER heard the rest of his sentence.'
The familiar whoosh of closing bus doors cut off,
the rest of his words. This act put the,
passengers into an uproar, and as I turned,
toward the window I could see the drunken
freshman leaning against a tree, doubled over
The driver chuckled, shook his head, and:
flicked off the inside lights. He pulled the bus
out and jauntily roared past the unmoving kid.
At the next stop the lights went back on, and,
people were smiling at each other as they
stepped off the bus.
I got up, headed for the front and jumped oft
the steps behind my friend. My hands shook in;
anger-at them for laughing, at myself for
saying nothing, and at the kid for being
ignorant of the ridicule. I shoved my hands into
my pockets, and crossed the street in they
smoke the bus had left behind.
As I walked toward my dorm I pulled my
right hand out of my pocket and shoved my
thick glasses back up on my nose. "Bastards!"
I yelled, but I was too late. My accusation
bounced off the walls of the Baits dorms, falling
on no one but myself.
University buses returned to Fuller Road
on Monday. Schmitz is an LSA senior.
Doily rhoto by DEBORAH LEWIS
from the middle door. He rubbed a sweaty
palm on his pantleg, and stopped at the front of
"Excuse me," he said to the driver, "but, uh,
I'd like to ask you something." The driver, as if
he were a part of the bus, stared blankly at the
The myriad of minor conversations between
the other riders hushed as everyone noticed the
suddenly public conversation taking place in
the front of the bus. In a voice too loud because
of the sudden silence, the kid continued.
"I, UH, REALIZE that you have to run a cer-
tain route and all, but, it seems like you could,
uh, take Fuller Road. I know there's construc-
tion going on and everything, but, uh, there's
cars going down it all the time ... I was just
wondering why you couldn't go that way."
The driver looked at him as if all the world's
ignorance were piled into that one question. A
few titters broke out in the back of the bus. The
drunken freshman snorted and lurched off the
After a long silence, the driver replied. "Hey,
man," he said, looking bored, "I just drive
where they tell me to drive."
UNAWARE THAT he was quickly becoming
an object of ridicule, the kid pushed his glasses
up on his nose and persisted..
"Well, yeah, I know, but I just thought you
might know why you couldn't drive that way."
"I just told you I'm following instructions. I
do what they say." With that, the driver turned
back to the wheel. Bewildered at the non-
answer, the kid retreated down the bus steps.
Now he was standing outside of the bus, looking
up at the driver, still without an answer to the
same question my friend had put to me earlier.
THE REMAINING passengers laughed
together. The sound bounced around the inside
of the bus, as loud and harsh as the blue
fluorescent lights glaring from above us. I
Edd tigan t
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCIII No. 7
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Renting: Turning the tables
To VOE '%.
ReP SUWAN ,l.-
IN OEBR .
I vi [.x v
ANN ARBOR landlords, it seems,
have finally done themselves in.
Perhaps it was one outrageous rent
too many. Or one repair too long
neglected. Or one building code
violation too ridiculous to swallow.
But whatever it was that started the
trend, student tenants are demon-
strating that they are less willing than
ever to have their pockets emptied by a
group of entrepreneurs whose vice-like
grip on the city's housing market is
legendary. After too many years of
writing their own rules, landlords
seem to be pricing themselves right
out of the market.
City housing vacancy rates have
soared by more than 300 percent in the
past few years, and it seems clear that
the tables are turning. Previously
smug landlords are now going to all
sorts of lengths to get a signature on a
lease-offering everything from
scholarships to TV sets to gift cer-
ificates to entice tenants.
Landlords are having to scramble,
University housing officials say, in
part becausestudents haveseither
wised up or become fed up. After years
of being shoved around, students are
becoming smarter shoppers. By living
farther from campus, in smaller
houses, and with mere roommates,
student tenants are beating landlords
at their own game.
Students can rightly rejoice at such
sweet revenge on their former tormen-
ters. But what is needed now is not
gloating, but rather constructive ac-
tion. Now that the tremendous
economic stranglehold of local lan-
dlords is starting to weaken, tenants
should seize the opportunity to push the
tenant/landlord relationship into
For years, the Ann Arbor Tenants
Union has helped students fight the un-
fair practices of landlords. Now,
provided students are not lulled into
acquiescence by the easier market
conditions, the ATU should be able to
make even more progress. Tenants
and the AATU might even be able to
forge student housing into something
resembling a buyer's market.
Students, in short, should now do to
the landlords what landlords are so
good at doing to students : screw them.
TxoN'T CGNNj HOSE
PAND~ -N tDW\O(2ATS HAV
LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Two contradictory views of MSA
To the Daily:
From reading the Sept. 9 issue of
the Daily, I developed a totally
dichotomous, if sketchy, notion of
the Michigan Student Assembly and
its political and financial operations.
I first conjured up images of MSA
as a politically willy-nilly lobbying
effort for special interest groups
both on and off campus-interests of
Priority' means equality
+ 1 't r !
1 1 4' ,'/ ', t ,
To the Daily:
The temerity of Judy Kozlow
and Denise Michael ("New lot-
tery splits dorm cliques," Sept.
12) is astounding. For those who
didn't read the article, these two
complained loudly about the fact
that the housing office does not
assign dorm rooms on a first-
come, first-serve basis anymore.
Now, bleat Kozlow and Michael,
Detroit-area students can't drive
ts be given priority, Michael
wails. I'll tell her why. I can't
drop everything and run to Ann
Arbor like she can. I live four
hours away and I don't have a
car. I don't get "priority" under
the new system, I get
equality-the same chance for
housing as she does.
Many colleges give out-of-state
students priority in housing lot-
teries. If these two had their way,
concern to 4.3 percent of the 1981-82
student body (by virtue of last
April's MSA election turnout). I
derived this impression from
Charles Thomson's article ("MSA
tax: Pay up or shut up") which
reminded us that we pay $1.10 per
term to MSA or we don't get to go to
But reading on to the next page of
the same issue, I learned of MSA
president Amy Moore's seemingly
heroic crusade to represent student
interests in saving-or not
sifying, but "unprofitable,"
programs from the administration's
plans to save money and turn the
University into one "run not as an
institution of higher learning, but as
a corporation" ("Students forgotten
in budget planning").
gathered from any Daily subscriber
or MSA contributor concerned
enough to submit such questions.
Until such an expose appears in
the Daily, I have $8.80 of my frugal
college budget unaccounted for over
the last four years. Incidentally, that
is money with which I could sub-
scribe to the Daily this year, or
which I could be glad I spent on MS4
for the past four years, depending on
who flung the bullshit in the Sept. 9
Daily, Charles Thomson or Any
Drop the fee
To the Daily:
Charles Thomson should bed