Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Bus Ride

Riding the bus provides a wealth of information into relationships, ‘the happenings’, and the human condition of the community. It’s amazing what you learn, how touching some of the conversations and how much constraint you have to apply as you observe and absorb everything. My car is in the shop and I had to do some errands so I took the bus. This will be a two bus trip each way but, whatever!

On this ride I sat towards the back of the bus, among a mixed group; teens and adults. One teen was seated in the section where I sat when I got on. Another came on board a few stops afterwards. The girl sitting in my area motioned to a boy getting on. The gesture caught my eye so I looked up to see who it was. The boy came back and sat in the available seat two rows away. They then exchanged niceties, caught up on the latest gossip and the happenings of the peers and friends and ‘the block.’

An interesting dynamic played out as they chatted and laughed, exchanged personal information and upcoming events. As they talked, the conversation turned into a cupid type discussion. The girl told him that she is interested in one of his buddies. The boy obviously had some fondness for the girl as if he was interested in her. He was a little clumsy in his talk, eye contact and gestures. He showed her his shopping bag and talked about fashion and how she could set herself apart from the rest of the girls. He was brave though, even bold, assuring her that his friend would like her as she would be a better eye candy than the previous girl. Through out this exchange you could see the change in the boys’ countenance but he didn’t let on that he was a bit bruised. They agreed to get off the bus at the same stop and make their way home. This was a time for constraint. It was wide open to jump in and redirect the play to consider present company because it could be yours for the taking. I wonder if she’ll catch on. He seems as if he would be a good catch for her. Hmmmm! I could share this with my kids.
As I continued my commute, I transferred to another bus for the final leg of the ‘outbound’ trip. I was able to get a seat on this bus as well. It was fairly empty for this time of the day. Two adults came on the bus. Totally engaged and engrossed in conversation; they were discussing shopping, finances and friends. It wasn’t clear the depth or type of friendship between them but they had a good connection; they were familiar with each other, but perhaps not ‘buddy.’ As they sat together and continued their conversation, one was apparently approaching her stop. A real raucous outburst of laughter came from one of the two catching my attention and bringing them back into focus for me. After they took their seat my attention turned to the other riders on the bus. Apparently one woman asked the other a question that got a response that was very funny to her.

I gathered from the continuing conversation that the remark that the bus is a scary and dangerous place was responsible for the laughter. I am not sure if it was the statement itself or the way it was said that got her funny bone. Her laughter continues as she was being cautioned that one should be careful when talking about their destination on the bus for fear of eavesdropping with untoward intentions. The statement was still quite hilarious to her so she continued to make lithe of the issue. In an attempt to amplify the seriousness of her position, the other said, matter-of-factly, ‘you see what happens on TV, don’t you?’ So of course that tempered the response some what but she was still tickled. By this time one was at her stop and they parted pleasantly. This is an interesting idea or concept. Again I was ready to butt in but applied restraint because it might seem an intrusion.

The moral here is that on the bus the conversations, appearances, psyche, intensity, similarity and distance between, among and within the riders are as vast and varied as the neighborhoods. And at times the conversations can be as colorful and even endearing. We are all on the bus for different reasons but perhaps similar purpose. One thing for sure is that we are moving from place to place in a large group and is conducting our business as we see fit or find it necessary; influencing each other.

I don’t ride the bus but most of the time I find it a good experience. I can forget my troubles, enjoy the scenery, engage in conversations, share or learn new information, listen to pithy conversations and get where I’m going without paying attention to the vehicular traffic or anything else. I could even catch up on my reading or formulate a plan for the next task. It’s a good thing. You could even pick up some clues about the language or etiquette of the various groups and some messages to share with those around you as tips. If you are like some of us drivers, you get a break from cursing, honking or swearing, well maybe not swearing because sometimes it can be trying on the bus. You also help to preserve the environment at the same time. Not a bad deal.

Another benefit from riding the bus this day was the posters and advertisings that I saw. The Train of Thought poster on one bus caught my attention and was very insightful. It read: Out of the crooked timber of humanity nothing entirely straight can be built. So togetherness, understanding, flexibility, creativity, tolerance and hope in the power of people all contribute to a rich and powerful community. Our communities appeals or relate in some measure to everyone because we assimilate and become one. What we are and what we do influences everything. Mass Transit, well it has its advantages too.

No comments: