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Rift Rafts And Riffraff

By Karen Jones [1]

Friends let friends ride public transportation.

As I sit on Bus 77 that cruises up and down Massachusetts Ave., I look down at all the cars on the street. The bus is much taller than the privately owned cars; so, I sit up in my crow’s nest spying on people.

I ride public transportation almost every day because I don’t have a car anymore. I had to leave it behind when I left for school. The bus-riding has created a new perception of vehicles for me. Instead of a car, it looks like a capsule which insulates the driver from the rest of us out here.

The encapsulated don’t have to deal with the riffraff of humanity. I read this on Ask.com:

“I once heard in a documentary about steamboats on the Mississippi River that while the wealthy could afford to travel on steamboats, poor people could not and used small rafts that were called “rift rafts”. From that came the term ‘riffraff,’ meaning poor people, and later, ‘people with whom you did not wish to be associated.'”

I find the contrast interesting. Back then, droves of rich people rode on the big vessel together and the destitute had their own, smaller skiffs. Now things are reversed.

When did it become “better off” to be separated from other people?