I can’t count the number of articles I’ve read about not wanting to talk to people on public transport.
The classic scenario goes like this. You’re sitting on the plane, getting out your headphones or your newspaper or whatever. The guy next to you looks across diffidently.
“Headed to Melbourne?”
You say, with a polite but firm smile, “Yep.” And then you clamp on your earphones, glare down at the paper, and pretend to be completely absorbed in it for the rest of the trip.
Or how about this one? Your car’s being fixed so you have to catch the bus today with the POOR people. There’s the ones who mumble at the bus driver and can’t seem to count out their change, the mentally disabled (or additionally abled?) people who happily grin at absolutely everyone and shout ‘Guess what I’m doing today!’, the drunk men who lurch around complete with their own atmosphere, the old foreign ladies with unlikely-coloured hair who smile at each other and talk in Czech, the pensioners with their free bus tickets, the moody teen who’s just got out of juvenile detention and is discussing the pros and cons of jail with a like-minded friend, the gaggle of girls with panda eyes and muffin tops, and the middle-aged greenie who still believes in public transport…and YOU.
“Have you read Dostoevsky dear?”
“Where are YOU going today?”
“I’m not drunk you know.”
So you carefully pick out a seat where you’re not opposite anyone, and sit on the aisle so no one can sit next to you, at a point equidistant from all other passengers (but, if you have to be closer to one in particular, you obviously pick the greenie, who is at least semi-sane).
I don’t understand! Sure we all have off days, but public transport is a god-given chance to find out about some fellow human being we’ve never met before and will never meet again!
YES!!! A boxed set of the encyclopaedia of humanity, a documentary made for us alone, our very own moving Oprah! Why DON’T we want to talk to people or be talked to? Is the prospect of chatting to someone we don’t know, so VERY scary?? (To me, no – I like it. I mean, who ELSE is gonna talk to me)
That said, when the drunk man sicks up, don’t forget to lift your feet.