Friday, January 22, 2010
In college I studied communications, because of this I am a people watcher. The bus seems to make us all people watchers, but in the most discrete way. We all sit in our seats, some with headphones in other playing games or reading, all the while watching those around us. The new and/or nervous are watching because they are not completely comfortable about traveling with strangers, seasoned and/or trusting bus riders watch with shear interest. At the same time most of us want to be ignored while traveling. Think of the time you spend traveling alone in your car, how many embarrassing things do you do? There are people who simply beat on their steering wheel to the beat on the radio, others sing along, some respond back to talk radio personalities and some people even feel comfortable picking their noses. Travelling is a private affair for most of us but the bus takes that privacy away.
One of my favorite encounters, in my private made public travels, is courtship. I am terrible at meeting anyone let alone women and being new to the Twin Cities I am always on the lookout for avenues for making connections. The bus gives me access to a population that I have very little access to otherwise so when a cute girl gets on the bus I am always interested. I would like to believe that I have the ability to read nonverbal communication well but I know that my social anxiety prevents me from communicating in this fashion. This puts me in the position of being a watcher to my own chagrin. Nothing seems creepier to me that the dude on the bus who just sits there watching you.
The scenario plays out such. A cute girl enters the bus, I then get excited at this wonderful opportunity that has set itself in front of me. This excitement then turns into anxiety and I lose just enough courage to then do nothing but try and flirt without speaking. A series of nervous looks in her direction are made along with an attempt to analyze her nonverbal behavior. This behavior is not much different from the other riders, discrete observance of the people she has been thrust into the company of and an obvious desire to keep travel private. If there is any mutual interest it is always lost to the timing of my attempts at eye contact. In the rare occurrence of connection I often fail to remember to smile and I hastily look away. In the even more infrequent situation where I keep my brain racing itself into a brick wall and can actually muster the courage to speak my topic of conversation is if at all topical a dead end. When I think of the situations that I have even made it this far I wonder what could possible happen. Having never past the point of simple small talk how would I proceed. I have the distinct feeling that the scenario would not end much differently if I was successful rather than failing.
In the end I can simply set myself a goal, make it that far. When I was a much younger man I was in the same position as I am today but earlier in the conversation. I had no clue what I could possibly do if I made eye contact with a woman, now at least I have an idea. I guess all I can do is keep trying.