I ride the bus. To work, to campus, for a night out. Most people drive where I am, despite the fact that the bus system is quite reliable and has many different routes. The main reason I ride the bus is that I don’t know how to drive (yet) but it’s also a point of pride for me. It’s very much something I associate with city life, which I love, and I like the idea of more efficient transport that brings people together. Anyway, there are always characters on the bus. This series was suggested to me by a friend after she heard several of my tales from riding the bus.
#1 Prison and drugs
Yep. A guy sitting next to me asked to borrow a pen. Then, he launched into a discussion of how he’d been in prison and had been clean (drugs!) for a year now. What was amazing about this was that he was so nonchalant about discussing these things publicly. It was as though it were a completely ordinary thing to go to prison and take drugs. He wasn’t a bad or dangerous-looking guy. He was young, polite to me and had a nice expression on his face. My associations with people who’ve been in prison or who have been addicted to/involved with drugs are very negative and these topics just didn’t exist in my world for a long time. It’s just a strange experience but also gives me insight into what’s “normal” for different people and how differently life can turn out depending on the environment you grew up in.
#2 I weigh 307 pounds
This guy was having the loudest conversation on his phone today. It pissed me off a bit, because I feel people shouldn’t shout or be obnoxious in small shared spaces. But it was more bewildering than annoying, because he was having a conversation about weight and food. He admitted to someone that he weighed 307 pounds, told them that they were giving up all the good food, that he had no self-control and that he had “no concept of what a small meal was”. To me, weight and food are intimate topics. I would be mortified to shout out my weight in front of people and this guy was oblivious to the rest of us, or just doesn’t see it as something to be embarrassed about. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing that he can be so honest about his weaknesses – he also said he’d recently lost 50 pounds! – or a bit strange that people can be so lacking in self-awareness. The atmosphere was tense and hearing these personal details made me a little uncomfortable.