Monday, 19 April 2010

Commuting Chronicles - Judging Crazies

So, I commute to work.  I ride the bus every day – one glorious hour from door to desk.

It isn’t so bad, really.  Aside from the odd smells and occasional motion sickness, it’s a good opportunity to read, or write, or listen to music, or rest my eyes.  And anything beats a traffic jam.

One of the best parts about riding the bus is the fact that it can be considered a sociological experiment – a cultural observation.  I’m like an anthropologist.  I “people-watch”.  Well, more accurately, I discretely “crazies-judge”.

I’ve seen a whole mixture of odd sights on the bus.  Usually people just engage themselves with their handheld devices – phones, Berries, IPods, etc.  Lots of people read books or newspapers.  Or they do SoDuKu.  People LOVE SoDuKu.  People eat on the bus too.  Usually something smelly.  I’ve seen construction workers, and children, and students, and government workers.  I’ve seen people get a ticket for not paying the fare.  And I’ve seen people try to get out of a ticket for not paying the fare.  I’ve even seen people evade a ticket for not paying the fare by carefully sneaking off at the next stop.  I’ve seen people miss their stop and yell at the bus driver.  I’ve seen people argue with each other.  I’ve seen people talk to themselves.  And I’ve certainly seen people who are severely drunk and/or as high as a kite (one guy even spilled his “Gatorade” all over the seat).

But I saw something new today.  In and of itself, it wasn’t that strange, I guess.  Just new.  A new observation.

There was a lady – probably in her 50s.  She was a sort of plump lady.  She had bad hair – thin, cut short and slicked back.  She was carrying at least three bags of stuff and was squished into a seat in front of me.  She seemed like a nice enough lady (whatever little I can tell from how a person looks).  She fidgeted and fumbled around with her bags and pulled out her compact makeup.  This isn’t very weird. Some women do that.  But then she took out her mascara.  I guess it struck me as kinda odd.  Lipstick, sure; a compact, maybe; but mascara?

She proceeded to carefully apply two layers of Maybeline to her lashes.  Again, not that weird.  It's not like she continued to pull out more makeup - blush, eyeshadow, tweezers, Biore strips.  But it did get me thinking… Does she do this everyday?  Is this a commuter time-saver?  Like, some people read their mail on the bus.  Students sometimes do their homework.  Or maybe she was just especially late and threw the mascara in her bag on the way out the door.  But did she need her mascara that badly?  Maybe she just applies it as many times during the day as possible.  Maybe she had a special meeting and wanted to look particularly bold-eyed.  Maybe she had an early morning date.  Which would mean her boyfriend would have to work nights. I wonder what he does for a living.  Or MAYBE she just came from her boyfriend’s house. Kinky.  Besides all of that, it really seems like a safety hazard.  I mean, what if she poked herself in the eye?  Or what if she lost control of her little stick and painted her face with black goop?  Or what if she dropped the stick on her neighbour’s lap and covered a stranger with black goop?

It was around this point that I decided I’d better get back to my book.

Why was I so interested in this lady’s behaviour?  This is why I like to think of myself as socio-anthropologist.  I’ve immersed myself in this commuter culture to observe and learn.  The risk is, of course, that I'll inadvertently become a part of the commuter culture – like that guy who joined Hell’s Angels. 

I don’t mind commuting, but I’d hate to become a “commuter”.  I’ll have to be more careful from now on.


  1. You actually think that a lady that puts mascara on on a public bus has a boyfriend....who also has slicked back thin hair.....oh my, there may hope for me yet if you think that hahahah

  2. My friend was telling me how she knows exactly what I'm talking about. She said:

    "I do that all the time. I get fixated on one person because they are doing something weird or, for some other odd reason. Like the other day there was a guy talking on his phone but instead of just leaving it at his ear, every time he needed to say something he moved the phone down to his mouth, not super weird but i couldn't stop watching him. hahaha I love the bus."