A young professional woman named Megan, hastily thrown together for her workday, just managed to catch the 26 Express this morning. As she boarded and came down the aisle, she told herself that she was going to make an effort to converse with whomever she sat next to. She sat next to me.
I think this is hilarious. Less than a month ago I posted about how people seem very ready to ignore each other on the bus, and decided to make myself more available, even threatened to stand up and make a spectacle of myself.
I was actually writing in my Moleskine, doing a little journaling. I hadn’t shaved, and my hair is in a state of needing badly to be cut, and I was scratching away like some mediocre lyricist crafting a new song, so I’m now amused to imagine this person mustering her pluck as she sat down next to me and said Hi. I looked up and said Hi back, then looked back down. I closed my book — didn’t want a stranger, even a friendly one and maybe especially a freindly one, seeing my freshly birthed words — and as I did so I was aware that there was a little interval of time, about a second and a half max, in which it might seem a natural progression to say “How are you?”, which is what I did. Any longer and the conversation, like a seedling bereft of proper nutrient and water, would have withered.
But as with the lady from Georgia, that was all it took. We ended up having a great conversation that threaded through several topics, including sleeping too late and almost missing the bus; then her job — a development associate for United Way — and just how one becomes a person who gets hired to fill a role like that, given that it is not at all the kind of concrete job, said I, that one starts imagining as a child (astronaut, ice-cream truck driver) nor even the kind of career you start preparing for in college; then Craigslist (how she managed to get that job) and how my wife is a real sharpshooter on Craigslist; and finally to the kinds of cars we used to own, this still on the theme of Craigslist, whence her first car. Okay, so we pretty much wove our conversation around Craigslist.
As I got up to disembus I told her it had been great conversing with her, and that’s when she told me that she had decided to strike up conversation with her seat-mate today. At that point, I wanted to start a whole new conversatiion about that topic, but I only had time to say I was glad she had taken the risk.