If the ever-expanding lump of petrified chewing gum affixed to the seat of my trousers is suggestive of anything, it's that I rely on public transport quite a lot these days. Oh sure, I could get a car, but sadly I haven't caught any leprechauns lately and as such do not possess the required huge pot o' gold or cash equivalent one needs to buy and maintain a vehicle.

So I ride the bus a lot, because you could ride the bus right across the city every fucking day for the rest of your life and it still would not cost as much as a brand new SUV. You have to take the rough with the smooth, of course. Buses only drive around where they want and when they want, and you generally just have to hope your interests coincide at some point. There's always the risk of weirdoes, and being stared at balefully by old ladies for an entire trip, only after which you realise that you were supposed to give up your seat for them. And of course, you have to hail them.

Now, I'm a socially awkward young man constantly afraid of being judged by everyone in the world, and so I wonder what the bus driver thinks when I hold out a hand to flag him down. Does he think "Ah, another young soul to join the happy bus party" with a smile on his lips, or does he think "How dare this tall drink of water have the audacity to sully my lovely bus with his obnoxious presence! He'd better not still be around when we reach the end of the line or I'm going to fucking piss in his ear!"

From that line of thinking, I found myself wondering if the arrangement of your hand while hailing the bus affects his opinion of you. And so, I resolved to write a breakdown of all the different hand gestures to use when hailing a bus, and try to figure out which one is the best.

The Flat Spank

The Flat Spank is the hand held rigidly out with all the fingers together, in a display of efficient neatness that will give the driver the impression that he is about to welcome aboard a fine upstanding young fellow who likes things to be tidy. Or, alternatively, Hitler. A hand held out like this does look unsettlingly like a Nazi salute and if you unwittingly combine it with sticking a finger under your nose to check if you washed your hands properly in the toilet, you probably shouldn't be surprised if the bus steers towards you with intent of murder.

The Plymouth Point

A single extended finger seems like an appropriate enough hail, but under examination it seems a little condescending. If you don't raise it up high enough it's like you're saying "Hey, you have to pull the bus up right HERE, remember? I know it's tricky but not everyone gets it the first time, I'm sure you'll try your best". But of course if you hold it up too high you start to look a bit over enthusiastic, like the teacher's pet going "OOH ME ME ME PICK ME SIR I'VE BEEN EVER SO GOOD". It's best to go for the middleground and point somewhere diagonally upwards, like you're drawing attention to an interesting cloud shaped like Pontius Pilate.

The Hitcher

This is a hail for the fantasist. Perhaps the hailer spent their youth hitch-hiking across America, experiencing a series of fantastic adventures with an ageing hippy and an orang-outang as they quested to reach Washington before an evil county sheriff in order to declare his love to Mary-Lou herself at the big national dance contest. Perhaps sticking out a thumb like this and getting the bus to stop brings back cherished memories of finally getting a ride from a pig truck on some moonlit country road. Then getting raped by a pig.

The Non-Committal

The hail of choice for most people who don't like drawing attention to themselves. With the fingers half-curled the hailer communicates that he's caught somewhere between hailing and not hailing, so if the bus driver could stop that would be cool, but if he doesn't that's cool too. You have to remember not to curl the fingers too much, because at some point it becomes the universally accepted sign for "This is my arsehole! It likes gay sex!" which a bus driver may find at best unappealing and at worst the opposite.


It seems there are a lot of things that could go wrong with Brenda. The driver may think you strange for putting lipstick and permanent marker on your hand, and for flexing your thumb around to create the illusion of speech while affecting a squeaky voice. But even if he was offended by you hailing the bus in this way, you could attempt to distance yourself from your actions by maintaining the illusion that Brenda is in control of your body. You'll have to ask for your ticket through Brenda, taking it in her toothless mouth. Perhaps engage the driver in squeaky conversation until, embarrassed, he asks you to move on. Then maybe as you go to take your seat, hastily plead to him for help while Brenda isn't looking. This is rather an elaborate way to avoid social awkwardness when getting on the bus I'll be the first to admit, but it's somewhat amusing, and you might even get out of paying for your ticket if you creep him out enough.

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