Bus Etiquette

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Today has been a mixture of emotions, ranging from excitement to watching-paint-dry boredom then ecstatic high to down right crushed-like-a-bug sadness.

Out of all that has happened to me today one point has stuck in my mind. The bus journey home. A mundane and usually quite boring task that comprises of me staring off into the distance, daydream about dancing freely to music that I love losing my mind to. I generally keep to myself, as is the standard operating practise when confronted with a moving vehicle of not so random strangers. You make little to no eye contact hoping that no-one will start blurting their life story out to you or start accusing you in a childish and rather pumped up, silver back gorilla way of looking at that person in the wrong manner.

Friends on the bus are a different matter. There are like coming across an oasis in a desert; a welcome distraction from the slavery of my iPhone and its minions of apps. You can pass those ten or twenty minutes chatting about the trends on twitter or comparing Gerald Butler, when he was in 300 to Chris Evans, when he plays Thor. These are social rules that seem set in our minds and, to most come natural when placed in those circumstances. But what of acquaintances?

This is where my story comes in. A person who I had recently become friends with and had bumped into a couple of times, once at the bus stop got on to the bus I happened to be travelling on. The person didn’t notice me so when the bus came to a stop I got up and sat next to this person. The fifth-teen or so minutes that followed were the most awkward moments I have most recently experienced. At this point I feel I must put in a disclaimer as the anonymous person I’m typing about is a Facebook friend and seeing as I post links to my blogs on Facebook that person will more than likely read this. To the person who I sat next to on the bus, this blog entry is in no way an attack on you as a person. In fact I think you’re a genuine person and I would like to get to know you better in circumstances that are less awkward, possible where cold beverages are readily available to purchase with a note that has something written about promising to pay the bearer on demand the sum of the number scribbled across it several times. Moral obligation for filled, on with my blog offering.

This acquaintance was not having a good day. Unknown to me stuff was happening in this persons life that meant my presence at that moment of time was must likely unwanted. I couldn’t just get up and move back to the sit I had originally came from, not only would this be extremely rude but also embarrassing. Nor could I politely say ‘sorry am I irritating you, perhaps I’m sat too close would you like me to move away?’ as I’d sound like a bitch. So after us both trying to make small talk, awkward silences and apologies for bad moods and intrusion of personal space the persons’ stop comes around and they proceed to leave the bus.

This event got me thinking. Perhaps it’s time to make up rules for these inevitable and unavoidable situations. Perhaps we need a system of nods and handshakes to signify when a person has over-stayed their ‘bus seat’ welcome and are required to move on, or just to let them know that today is not the day to attempt being sociable with them. Some form of communication to help us navigate this complex dance of ‘bus life’, just anything to stop the feeling of being so unwanted by the end of it. Again I feel morally obliged to add another disclaimer. Dear bus buddy, once again I am in no way attacking you. This just happens to be a very interesting blog topic that you have brought up unintentionally. Yes I did feel like I had just been scrapped off of the back of Iron Man after he fell back down to earth from directing a missile into another universe, but that’s only natural. Adding the emotions I have experienced helps my audience understand my world that little bit better. Once I ‘manned up’ I got over myself, as it’s not your fault you were feeling so crappy and would have probably made anyone feel bad for attempting to strike up a conversation with you. Wait, that came out wrong, though to be honest I’ve just typed and deleted a few versions of how to write that and none of them came out right. The point is you probably didn’t feel that wanted by the end of it either and, like me wished that I had just stayed in my original seat. Disclaimer over.

I think until we come up with this universal system, it would be safe and advisable to only do one of two things in that situation. Go sit next to the acquaintance if they have acknowledge your presence and are waving you over, or just continue pretending you didn’t see them if they didn’t see you.

Till the next wave of inspiration, smile.

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3 thoughts on “Bus Etiquette

  1. …not the person on the bus (obviously. That would be rather unlikely given my current geographical situation), but one of those people who makes people feel crappy and unwanted because I suck at small talk… OR one of those who never shuts up (OK, I KNOW I’m one of those, but do I do that to people on the bus).

  2. Oh Kitty, few posts could have been more insightful and relevant! YES, there should be a set of rules and secret codes for how to handle these situations! Few things are as difficult to gauge as when people need silence and when they need sympathy… and the way to walk away from an awkward situation without either party feeling hurt… This reminds me of when I had accompanied James and one of his colleagues to a guided tour they were taking for the course. After the tour, James popped off to do a second round. These tours take about 45 minutes, but James’s friend was not aware of that James had gone to do round number two, but believed he had gone to the bathroom. Result: I awkwardly listen to him go on about cricket for half an hour, wondering why he hasn’t left already, and he wonders what is taking James so long. We did not figure out the misunderstanding until a few minutes before James returned. *sigh* See, I had a book, so when James’s friend came up and started talking to me I figured he would notice that and scoot. But apparently the “I’m holding a book, and it’s still open…” code doesn’t work on people. I’ve tried it at numerous occasions. Keep writing missus!

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