Well folks, it’s safe to say winter is officially here. For those of us living in the North, the past two weeks have felt more like January than November. With single-digit wind chills and ice-slicked roads, I’ve been forced to (temporarily) hang up bike commuting. The most logical alternative form of transportation has been taking the 133 bus to downtown, then jumping on the Light Rail train. It’s essentially door-to-door service for the low, low cost of $3.00.
Convenience aside, my favorite part of riding the bus has been eavesdropping on my fellow passengers’ conversations. People are fascinating creatures to study in their natural habitat. Especially when they’re having, what they assume to be, a private conversation with one another.
This past week, I stepped onto the 133 and was lucky enough to snag a window seat in front of two people involved in a lively discussion. The man and woman spoke in NPR voices about their teaching jobs, the arts, and historic home repair.
The high point of their conversation came when the woman broke out a perfectly Minnesotan, “Oh yaaaaah!” in response to something the gentleman said. I actually laughed out loud after hearing it. My seatmate, a perfect stranger, did the same. We glanced at each other knowingly, mutually busted in our eavesdropping pursuits.
While I was initially bummed about not being able to ride my bike to work, taking the bus has actually proved to be quite enjoyable. The people watching is fun and listening to other people’s conversations has reminded me of how much life takes place outside of my tiny world.
I’ve always been interested in learning more about the way other people live their lives. When I travel, I want to live like a local for two weeks at a time. When I’m at a restaurant, I want to know what the table next to me is ordering. When I’m riding the city bus, I want to hear about why your job sucks. Uninvited or not – I’m coming into your home and will only leave once I’ve learned something interesting about you.
The gentleman got off the bus a few stops later and I stole a glance at my subject. I recognized him by his long, elf-like stocking hat. He rides the 133 at this time every morning. I made a mental note to sit next to him as often as possible. I can’t wait to hear if he makes it onto the TV show, “This Old House.”