The funny thing about riding the bus between towns; decorum, civility, and simple common decency – all these things are up for grabs.
There are myriad ways that people maneuver to occupy a seat (or two) on the bus. Some spread out all their belongings on the window seat and sit on the aisle seat, which allows them to block any option for sharing its use- very clever. Others pretend, and lie when asked, that the open seat next to them is “taken”. Others just physically occupy both seats and give you preemptive terrible nasty looks.
But the one I like the best is the “sleeping passenger” technique. This one requires serious skill.
Some passengers sprawl and curl horizontally on both seats and prop their belongings as pillow; some flop and lean diagonally into the next seat (typically accompanied by loud, obnoxious snoring); and some pretend to sleep or snooze while sitting upright, dropping an arm or hand onto the adjacent seat. This last one is the most susceptible and approachable to an incoming passenger needing to find an open seat in a crowded bus.
And here is the issue: As soon as you step on the bus, you have less than a second to quickly scan the bus and consider your strategy for finding an open seat. You have one shot as you step further into the bus, while the passengers behind you go through the same process- but you can’t track back, since most of the time the “open seat” you passed in search of a glorious double seat is typically taken by someone less ambitious.
So, target the upright pretend sleeper. This is your best option. The sprawler is not visible and this leads you to think that a two seat option is there waiting for you, and the lean-to boorish snorer is just too much to deal with.
So, when you step on the bus, look for the pretend sleeper, and let sleeping dogs lie!
Such is the curious nature of life on the bus.