1. The Playa: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to the playa. His age or yours. The playa can be a middle school kid two feet shorter than you whose baggy pants sag to reveal Spongebob boxers asking, “Can I text you tonight?” Or he can be a senior citizen on his way to the community center who thinks making kissy noises on his knuckles will convince you to drop your knickers. Either way, the playa is cool, calm and confident. His favorite technique is to enter a totally empty subway car/bus and sit next to you. If you don’t talk to the playa, he’ll usually move on to the next girl. Just beware of the “I was just stretching” trick that the playa tries in crowded buses.
2. The Bible Lady: A retiree, Bible Lady’s sole source of entertainment comes from riding SEPTA and preachin’ the word to us lost souls on the subway. When she’s not asking you if Jesus is your friend, she’s passing out pamphlets that remind you that the world is ending. Bible Lady always carries a giant purse that serves a two-fold purpose: to contain all of her religious literature and to bash the heads of any errant young thugs that refuse to give up their seats to seniors. Bible Lady is generally pleasant to talk with, but most conversations end with “And will you give your soul to Jesus tonight?”
3. Mister Hustler: The hustler, who is almost always a Bob Marley wannabe, has a full-time job walking through subway cars selling his wares. They can be: underground newspapers, underground CDs, bootleg DVDs, perfumes oils, incense and socks. Usually, he starts his pitch by making a general announcement to the car in the form of a Malcolm X-esque speech. It usually begins “Brothers and sisters, today we are facing a world that wants to destroy us…” and then ends with a pitch for his product. It’s not always a product, though. There are enterprising homeless hustlers who will eloquently plead their cause for 23 cents.
4. The Schoolkid: The schoolkid never takes the bus alone. He or she is always in a pack of other schoolkids. To schoolkids, SEPTA is a playground where they can let out some of their sitting-in-class-all-day energy. If the schoolkids are girls, they find a hapless male (usually a Student) and try their hardest to make him blush. The schoolboys, on the other hand, spend their trip chasing schoolgirls. Subway schoolkids like to run from car to car in an urban version of manhunt. Bus schoolkids like to stand in the aisles and bus-surf. If you find yourself with a schoolkid, take cover. They don’t talk, they shout. Headphones are a requisite when it comes to dealing with a schoolkid.
5. The Student: The student, who you suspect barely knows English, spends every SEPTA moment burrowed in some large textbook of some type that you suspect isn’t included in their school curriculum. There can be a police scuffle, babies crying and a man with a boombox playing, but the student will never look away from his or her textbook. The student has a large backpack stuffed with textbooks of a similar nature and usually knocks over five people trying to get off at their stop. When they get up, watch out! — PHILLYGRRL