Every morning, when I was just a little later than I wanted to be, I had to take the bus to school. Getting on the C1 took skill and a little luck at five after eight o’clock in the morning. I had to leave my house three to four minutes before the bus was supposed to go by, and I had to get it just right. Though I habitually like to be early to everything, I was rarely early for this… Those precious minutes of sleep at seven in the morning are far too dear. I got to the point that I could almost guarantee that I would get on the bus, but it would be close.
See, the C1 begins its route in the morning at the undergraduate freshmen campus, and fills up with practical teeny-boppers who have class beginning at the same time as I did. So in order to catch a ride halfway through the route, you have to time it just right. It also didn’t help that I was at one of the most popular midway points, and so we would have a crowd of ten to twenty people hanging around waiting for a ride. And a bus driver will be hesitant to stop, when the bus is already practically full, even though there is probably room for a handful of folks.
I cannot tell you the number of times that I got on the bus, cramming into the space between two tall guys, hoping my backpack didn’t run into someone’s face. At some times, it was almost as if it was not the hand grips that were keeping me upright, but the general press of the crowd.
One time, I had to carry a box to school. It was very lightweight, but bulky, nonetheless. And I was late getting to the stop. Not terribly late, but sorta late. And so I got on the bus, and was cramming in, and realized that I would not be able to sit down. I had to hold onto the handgrips above my head. I still had this box in my hands. I was facing a girl, practically standing in her lap. I looked around and realized my predicament.
I told her, “I’m just gonna let you hold this so I don’t drop it on you.”
She was surprised more than anything. She looked at her friend sitting next to her and they both began to laugh, “No, it’s ok, I was about to ask if I could hold it for you.”
She thought I was odd. I know that I was a bit abrupt in telling her that she would hold it for me, but she seemed to be ok after the initial shock of a complete stranger talking to her.
Happy ending: the box survived, and I got to class on time.
That is one thing about the C1 that I found so interesting. Complete strangers stand or sit next to each other, and we are so involved in our own lives that we don’t expect the person practically sitting on us to make any real contact. It is as if we enter with our own shields and don’t let anyone in. It is almost sad. How do we spend so much time involved in ourselves that we don’t even see the person next to us?
It doesn’t just happen on the C1. It happens a lot of places. It happens more often than you might think.
Who is asking to be seen around you?