I've been catching a lot of public transport of late which is not something I normally do on a regular basis. And peak hour, which I hardly ever have done. I am not great on public transport at the best of times, and less at peak hour when I invariably have to stand for a good part of the hour long trip from the city to my home. The crush is tricky on my menopausal temperature control...or lack of. I'm not up on train etiquette so am at risk of finding myself in trouble...not swiping off with my card, or trying to get on the train while others are getting off. I feel like I'm not quite in the swing and not following the crowd..slightly out of step...like I’m in a new country. Does everyone else feel like they don't quite fit in?
The protocol of not reading over someone's shoulder even when the article looks amazing. The protocol of seeming to be really interested in the shockingly dribble journalism in the commuter paper that is shoved into my hands as I run for the 5.23. Pretending not to be interested in others conversations and not laughing at their jokes even when they are hilarious...how to stop myself?? Never good at that. Feeling like I am always in a hurry...even when I am not...but trains must be run for.
We spend such a lot of time and energy pretending that we are not interested in each other...and then get home and hungrily devour reality TV, vicious cop shows or read about the latest celebrity carry ons. Is it just me that is busting to know what is so funny between those 2 women speaking in a language I don't understand. Am I the only one who wants to know what kind of art that very colourful woman with the dreadlocks has in the large folio she is carrying.
Have we lost the art of engaging with strangers? Do we need an excuse to meet each other and create a conversation, create a connection? Why do we?
I despair at our isolated lives. That we can feel so alone when we are brushing bodies on a swaying train. That we all take ourselves so seriously that we struggle to even make eye contact and exchange the occasional smile. That our first point of reference when someone does something out of the ordinary is mistrust and often downright anger.
I have another few days of this train caper. I hereby give myself a challenge. To speak to someone new each trip. To exchange a smile with a complete stranger...and see if I make it out alive. What do reckon? Up for the challenge?