Monday, April 02, 2007

Riding on the Bus...

I went on the city bus this weekend, a pursuit that, for me, is never without much anxiety and fear that I'll doze off and awaken in a faraway land where no one speaks my language, like Quebec.

I was sitting on the bus, being my usual neurotic self with my leg-shaking and my hand-chewing and I suppose that this alone would deter people from sitting near me. You know, because us neurotics typically fly off the handle on city buses and decapitate those near us with the cords from our MP3 players.

At first I thought it was just me, that perhaps I was letting off an offensive odor, or that I had cracker crumbs in my hair. I sat there on the bus, wondering what it could be about me that would make it so that I was alone in a window seat, and people were standing in the aisles hanging onto the very, very germy hanger-on thingies they put in the aisles.

But then I looked around and I realized that I wasn't the only one sitting alone and there wasn't anything outwardly offensive about the other people sitting alone. A nice looking business lady, a girl who was obviously extending her walk of shame right on to a bus ride of shame, a Dude with a newspaper, and so forth. Regular, run of the mill people.

And these are the reasons that I'm so glad I'm going to be escaping the city within the next month, because I don't understand why people act the way they do when you stack them up by the millions within city limits. I don't understand why people can't sit down beside each other and give a simple nod to acknowledge each other's presence. We could all go one step furth and extend a smile, or a simply "Gloomy day out, huh?"

I'm not saying that I'm any better here, because clearly I didn't extend any smiles or casual remarks about the weather. I didn't mostly because when you do that in the city, people think you're insane.

And it really makes me wonder, why is it that we've become so scared of one another that we can't exchange eye contact, facial expressions, simple words now and then? Have we all become so that we feel we're risking our safety or breaking some huge social norm by looking in the direction of another person?

And you know, I don't really wonder any more why psychiatry, depression, and the like have all become so commonplace these days: All we want is someone to connect with. We've become so desperate for some sort of interaction with others, but at the same time we're all too scared to take the first step. We're surrounded by millions of people, but we're quite literally totally alone much of the time.

And so, one more reason for me to look forward to moving home: Where the guy at the store never charges me late fees on my movies because he likes me so damn much; where the pharmacist asks me how my grandmother's doing; where my old bus driver's wife will stop and ask me how my nephew is making out in the first grade or how Big Brother made out on his last tour.


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