Sometimes I forget how much fun it can be to ride a bus or train. The opportunity for uninterrupted people-watching almost outweighs the fact that I loathe the thought of my travel times being dictated by someone else’s schedule.
On the occasion I do find myself on public transport I am more than happy to sit back in the velour seat and let my mind and eyes wander over my fellow passengers. In a way it’s like being given a cast of characters to create personas for, and the power of observation can yield vital clues as to who my companions for the next half hour might be.
This morning I took the morning train with my darling (and yes, in my mind I was humming that infamous song) and despite the siren song call of my current reading obsession I couldn’t help but sneak a look around the carriage every now and again. Last night in the creative non-fiction class I am taking at university we were given an assignment: an observational piece. No interpretation, no interruption from the narrator as to what the scene might mean or how people might be feeling, just pure observation of the myriad nuances of the characters traversing a moment in time.
My train ride with Chris this morning proved good practice for my assignment. I allowed my eyes to flicker above the limit of the page a few times and take a sense-filled snapshot of what they saw there: a young boy, only about eleven or twelve was struggling with a big backpack, and an environmental shopping bag filled with a new and tightly rolled sleeping bag and hiking sneakers that looked almost too big for his feet; a teenage dancer with her pink tights covered by a pair of old drill running shorts with her hair yet to be twisted and pulled into the neat knot that surely madam would insist on; a businessman looking seriously at his iPad as he played a memory game; a young woman styled and coiffed – work ready – who smiled intermittently as she listened to her iPod (I wonder what made her smile?): all these lives, all going in the same direction for one moment in time with no idea about each other, and only a small probability of ever sharing the same space again. Fascinating what you see when you open your eyes to the other people who surround you in the most ordinary of places.
So dear reader, are you a public transport regular?
What is the most amazing thing you have ever witnessed on your commute?