As part of my morning commute I ride a free bus provided by the local community. I don’t usually ride the bus but this year has been particularly awful in terms of cold and weather. So I began riding the bus.
Since riding the bus, I have discovered an order about those who ride the bus. We arrive in a certain order, we stand in a certain order and we file onto the bus in a certain order.
If a new person joins our midst it truly disrupts the flow. They don’t really know where they belong and neither do we.
Our stop has a cast of characters, the ethnic girl with the jet black hair who wears glasses and has her hair dyed a bright green at the tips. She is always sporting a different pair of boots for each day of the week ans knitted caps to match. Her hat sits precariously on top of her long mane of hair, not completely on just enough to look cute and warm the top. She carries a large satchel with cartoon characters on it. She generally looks very stern until her friend arrives. She enters the bus nearly last.
She is a blond with long hair and she generally wears her hood up that pushes her long blond hair out the front and trailing down the front of her coat. They are both students and chat away amicably on the short ride up the hill. She is the one who consistently pulls the “stop requested cord” everyday. Which i have never understood, because the bus stops there anyway. But that is her job. She enters slightly before her friend.
Then there is the tall girl with the very colorful leggings, slightly overweight, tall and carries her lunch in a WalMart bag. She generally arrives with wet hair, indicating she may have slept in a bit. She wears sneakers every day and in the winter they don cleats, becoming her winter shoes/boots. She always enters first.
She is followed by the same 4 or 5 people. I have watched them as they acclimate to bus life. Our newest rider has made a transformation day by day. The first day she was wearing a cute plaid double breasted jacket and heeled boots, carrying her purse. No gloves, hats or scarves. By the second day she had gained gloves and a scarf neither of those messes with her hair. The 3rd day she had moved to sensible shoes (tell a tell sign of hospital work) and by Friday she owned a brand new teal/grey North Face backpack. She now was one of us, the commuters.
There are others, like the married couple who waits but doesn’t ride the “free” bus unless they miss the “city” bus. They resemble each other and have that students yet married vibe. Both carry a backpack, both with a coffee cup and a water bottle hanging from their packs. Jeans are the daily attire, running shoes for him, boots for her and a beanie that probably reflects their home state, today his proclaimed “Minnesota” which to me says..I can handle winter.
There is the man who rides and to me his appearance says firmly, I am at the end of my career I don’t need anything new. His pants are sporting slightly frayed edges, clean but old and his shirts are run of the mill button up collared perma-press shirts. I have watched him for the last year and half. He is not very tall, grey hair and wrap around sunglasses. He walks very fast (on the days we are walking) and zooms by me on a regular basis (must have lived in a big city once) . I used to feel sorry for him in the beginning of the first winter, thinking he must not have a warm coat. No, that denim hooded jacket IS his winter coat, no gloves, no hat, no scarf…ever. He always looks as if he is counting the days until his work is done. Maybe he is.
And finally there is a bundled up woman, mask, hat, gloves, headphones. She enters the bus last, every day, because she gets out at the next stop. That’s me.
The reason I bring up the rear is that I understand that when you get on the bus, you should continue moving so everyone can get in, and I know that I exit at the next stop. In the beginning there were a few patrons who did not get the etiquette( or maybe I made it up, but it seemed logical to me) and would get on the bus and stand right in the front, immobile. I would squeeze past and then my stop would come and I would squeeze past again. Always awkward and they would look at me as if i was bothering them somehow. That is when my expirement in silent behaviour modification began in earnest. If I got on last that would send a signal that others should move further in and choose their entry position in line based on the exit point. I am happy to say it seems to have worked, I am always the last on and the first off, unless we have a new commute member. And once they find there spot, the flow is good.
I love human beings and testing the boundaries of the psyche.
Until Next time,