How Ron Jeremy can change a bus ride

September 16, 2010 at 9:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I ride the bus to and from work every day totalling to about 2.5 hours on the bus daily. During this time, I usually listen to my ipod, read a book, knit, or stare out the window.

On buses, there is an unspoken etiquette. You don’t speak to me, I won’t speak to you.

The majority of the time, the only people talking on the bus are those who are travelling together. This fills the bus with lots of hyper teenage chatter, or in the mornings, complete silence.

Now this is not to say that there is no interaction. There’s a gentleman who always nods a greeting to me in the morning, the woman who lives within a 2 block radius of me who will sometimes make a comment about the weather as we disembark in the evenings, the man around my age with a DS who, after we both had a very bad experience with some drunk men on one ride home, gives me a smile and greeting with a look that still, 2 months later says “I hope we don’t have that again”.

But there isn’t any interaction beyond that. I’ve been doing this bus ride for nearly a year, and seen these people daily for that period of time, but we don’t know each other, I don’t even know their names. In todays society it’s better to stay silent, appear occupied, and ignore anyone else on the bus. Partly this is for safety, believe me I have horror stories from the bus, however, part of this is because it’s just more comfortable to stay solitary than to reach out to others.

This isn’t just something that happens on the bus, it’s the same in any public place. You go to the theatre, the mall, the bank, even in your own neighbourhood, and if you don’t know the person who’s walking towards you, you maintain silence, sometimes even trying to appear preoccupied. Or if their is any interaction it is nothing more than a small smile and head nod acknowledging their presence.

Yesterday I hopped on the bus, I managed to push my way to the back, since I had a rather long ride and would prefer not to stand the whole time, and sat on a seat facing backwards. These are four seats two facing front, two facing back, that are perfect for groups of friends to sit. Usually if I get stuck on them I engross myself in my book and try not to bump anyone around me.

This time, I did pull out my book, but I was constantly distracted from reading it as the women across from me were having a conversation about old tv shows, Andy Griffith, Happy Days, things like that. The one woman not knowing the shows, the other trying to find a show that they both remembered to use as a comparison. It was quite interesting to listen to them talking, but I did my best to pretend I was ignoring them and following the “etiquette” of the bus. The name Ron Norman came up, and the woman who was struggling to remember these shows said that she “only knew the porn star… what was his name… ron… ron…” At which point I barely looked up, gave a small smile and said “Ron Jeremy”.

All of a sudden, by me saying that, it was ok for others to participate in the conversation. The college student beside me stopped staring out the window and started talking about her saturday morning cartoons and kids shows, the gentleman behind the two women spoke up about his father and some of the things he was doing when the topic turned to Cher being 64 and still as active as ever.

It was such a change, how two simple words enabled so many others to connect. Now we don’t know each others names, as that was never shared, but we had comfortable, fun conversation that made the bus ride home an enjoyment rather than an irritation.

I’m not saying we must all start talking to each other as best friends, I’m just making on observation at how those “etiquette” laws of silence can be broken if just one person speaks up at an appropriate time.

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