Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Biddy Bus

Upstate New York suffers from a very serious demographic problem: loss of the 18-34 year old population. Not only is the entire Upstate region losing population overall, it is especially acute in this coveted age bracket. And "professional" 18-34 year olds? Not so much sticking around the area. See, no matter how good the quality of life is around here- and it really IS good: excellent public schools, low crime rate, no traffic, plenty of parks and public amenities- educated young people want this little thing called GOOD JOBS, and that is where Upstate NY in the 21st century fails to deliver.

One of my many local jokes (which fails to slay 'em) is "Know what the best thing about being 30-something and professional in Binghamton is? NO peer pressure! Get it? Ha ha ha ha ha!!!"

All this is backdrop for the sad (for me) story I am about to relate. So I went to NYC on another day trip yesterday, courtesy of a local travel company that arranges bus trips from Binghamton to places like the big outlet mall across the border in Pennsylvania, the big Indian casino in the region, the annual flower show in Philly, etc. You can imagine that the bus is filled with mostly women (who, like me, don't want to drive) and they are mostly, well, "older."

I am such a "regular" that they have started seating me in the front row. This is not a status I am proud of. While normally I love to be an insider and know the people who own and operate a business, since it usually means perks, this is not a business where I would proudly hold VIP status.

We were getting ready to leave NYC yesterday, waiting for the stragglers as 7 pm approached, and from my front row perch I see a nicely dressed, professional-looking young man pop his head in and have the following exchange with the bus driver:

Cute yuppy guy: "Is this the bus to Binghamton?"
Driver: "Well, yes, but it's a private bus."
Cute yuppy guy: "Yes, I know. You see, my grandmother is on this bus and she is a bit slow making her way to the bus. She's coming- please do not leave without her."

NO, yuppy guy! Please! Come on the bus with ME and live the Upstate dream with us! All those hopes, dashed as fast as they arose. The Biddy Bus took on its last passenger (after securely stowing her wheel chair in the luggage compartment) and the grannies and I made the long trek back "home."

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