If this is your first time reading this blog I recommend you start with the first one .
** Disclaimer – I’m probably a lot crazier than most people as I tend to walk/bike all over the place and distances don’t really phase me. As such, many things I find common and easy to do could very likely be tough and inconvenient for others. This is clearly not a “how to” for going car-less but rather “how I” manage to do it .**
When I talk to family and friends about riding the bus, I find many impressions they have of the bus system are negative. It usually has less to do with the bus service and more to do with the ridership. I’ll be the first to agree that City transitservices quite an eclectic group of people, but that’s not a bad thing. I’m going to generalize a bit here, but from my conversations I would say that most middle income people are afraid to use the bus (whether they will admit it’s fear or not) and I find they cover it up with some unsubstantiated opinions and views. Many comments go so far as to call the bus clientele “crazy” to cover the fact that they have an unfounded fear of some of the citizens who ride the bus. I think part of it is the cultural and social differences between middle class people and other public transit commuters and the skewed media coverage that creates very biased views. Each time I ride the bus, I have to admit I people-watch and I see some very heartwarming things. First thing is almost everyone on board has a good general respect for everyone else regardless of sociol/economic class. People vacate seats for the elderly, wheelchair users and strollers, as is asked by the seat designations.
Being on a bus full of mostly strangers, it’s surprising how many regular riders know each other and their commute turns into a 5 or 10 minute chit chat between friends. There is a great sense of community on the bus and honestly I feel like an outsider in this community because I don’t ride the bus often and neither do my friends. I suspect what I’m hearing is not only existing friendships, but commuting friendships that have formed (people travelling the same route every day) and I actually was able to make one myself.
I tried experimenting a bit with actually talking to people that commute by bus rather than zoning out into my own little world. This started when I was waiting for the bus and a guy walked over to my stop. He started right into a conversation and not wanting to be rude I found myself conversing with him. Mind you, our topics weren’t too deep-- weather, cars, people walking dogs, basically just what we saw but it was still fun and helped pass the time. The conversation did help me realize that I can be more open and it makes your day that much more enjoyable if a stranger can talk to you. It’s not threatening like many people fear but just being friendly.
Bussing during rush hour means you’ll be sharing a seat, and it’s at this time that another amusing human interaction occurs. People boarding a bus have to choose who they’re going to sit by. You can almost guess who’s going to sit with whom as it seems people instantly judge their seat “buddy” based on apparel/appearance. A few just want a seat and could care less but you can definitely see eyes searching for the less threatening occupant to park beside. I had a seat to myself and soon found I had a companion. Normally I keep to myself but this time I tried to strike up a conversation. Usually based on body language, you can gauge who may talk and who won’t and I lucked out and found someone willing to chat. Our conversation was kept short and again just discussed what was in the immediate vicinity, namely the book my seat companion was reading.
Definitely talking to someone was fun and the more I do it the more comfortable I’ll be talking with strangers and the more friendly I can make the community around me. So I think from now on when I ride the bus I will make an effort to talk to whomever I sit beside and propagate that “Canadians are friendly” rumour.
Until next time!
conversations on buses
Posted By Gillian Mills on 1/15/2011 10:06:36 PM
I like how you write. Here in Vancouver with so many street closures during the Olympics, thousands resorted to the transit system. It was so interesting watching people.....because the "blue jackets" Aka Olympic volunteers talked to each other a lot! And there were so many people from other nations visiting and it was heart warming to see how many Vancouverites talked to these visitors. The whole tone of our normally quiet commuters was changed, It was such a great feeling and one I hoped would be carried on. The whole atmosphere around town was changed and no number of gold medals could substitute for this communal feeling. There were no 'strangers", just friends you hadn't yet met.
Page last updated on Wednesday, March 02, 2011