by Scoobie Davis
My Letter to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority
My first words when I got onto the bus: Ay Caramba!
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing because I am concerned about an incident that occurred on a number 20 MTA bus near 4th and Wilshire in Santa Monica on the evening of 8/19/03. When I and other bus patrons got on the bus, we noticed an overpowering stench from a man who had gotten on just before us who was seated in the back. The man also had gotten on at Wilshire and 4th and he went to the back of the bus. His stench was so bad that I was able to smell him when I was in the front of the bus. The only explanation I have for the overpowering nature of the odor is that apparently sometime ago, the man pinched a loaf in his shorts and didn’t bother to do anything about it. A passenger complained to the driver and the driver ordered the man off at the next stop. The man said that he was going to contact MTA and complain. In case he did, I would like to give my support to the driver.
I don’t know if the driver acted according to regulations but he did act with common sense and good judgment. The driver was not trying to be punitive of the man; I’m sure he only wished that the man had cleaned his butt prior to getting on the bus. In my opinion, the driver acted properly: this man’s right not to wipe his ass ended when he attempted to share an enclosed space with other people. Nobody wanted to smell this guy’s crusty butt. Airlines have the right to refuse service to passengers who have offensive body odor. MTA drivers should have that right also.
I don’t want to appear too critical of a guy who is obviously down on his luck, but he seemed to be coherent and able-bodied. There were plenty of places in Santa Monica to take care of one’s hygienic needs. In fact, before I got on the bus, I was swimming in the ocean and used the public changing facility that had showers, toilets, and paper. It only takes a second to keep one’s butt region clean and I believe that artist Robert Crumb hit the nail on the head in his famous poster that addressed the issue.