Dec 15, 2010

Hold That Thought, Please.

I've been riding the bus a lot since it's gotten cold and snowy, partly because I wimped out and have not been called to the bike as much as I would like and partly because I have this book club and need a little time to read, and the bus provides that opportunity nicely.

I am coming up on my third winter of riding the bus - I started in March of 2009. It's certainly easier than it used to be, and I have found a number ways to use the time, minimize the inconvenience and maximize the enjoyment of transit. In fact, I have been mulling over a "how to ride the bus" post in the recesses of my little brain as I type this now.

One of the things that transit is reconnecting me with the experience of humanity on a grander scale. In my job, I have a corner office and a recptionist that screens calls, and although people stop in, it's certainly not like working in a noisey cube farm. What's more, we have a quiet house with no children and we don't do a lot of entertaining, so unless we go to a concert or something, my most intense exposure to people (both in density and duration) is generally the bus ride. In fact, we were packed in like sardines yesterday on a slow cold ride home.

The morning commute is generally pacific; I get on early in the route and I am often the first person on the bus. As we move along picking up others, it is typically quiet as people read, check their email and generally mind there own business. In the afternoon, the bus is more crowded and there is generally more conversation.

That comfortable routine was turned on it's head today when two women got on the bus in South Minneapolis. They were chatting when they got on, continuing a conversation that started at the bus stop. For the entire ride downtown, they continued their conversation, pausing only long enough to inhale life-sustaining oxygen. This steady torrent of vowels and consonents lasted at least 30 minutes without pause. It was an amazing performance, really.

For our benefit, they sat in the very front of the bus, facing each other, so we all got to enjoy this display of relentless and unmitigated communication.

I chuckeled to myself when I remembered the very carefully worded, but very sound, guidance the Society of Friends gives regarding speaking at Meetings. I think we could all benefit at times from considering whether we are truly being called to speak or simply filling voids.

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