Friday, December 10, 2010

Public Transportation - Where Everyone Only Pretends Not to Stare

Even if you're not a journalist who considers people-watching a fulfilling activity, the observation of others (better known as staring) has been ingrained in all of us since childhood. 

Don't believe me? Then why did our parents always telling us to stop staring at something or someone because it was "rude?" Take a look at the kids you see around you -- chances are they're staring at something/someone with a directness we only learn to fight as we get older. 

Since I've moved into the city of San Francisco, public transportation has become my ideal mode of transportation. It's inexpensive, an easier way to navigate the busy, city streets and is a people-watcher's dream. Whether you're in college or living the "big kid" life, public transportation is a bit like culture shock all in itself. 

So hang up the car keys (if you have them) and hop on board with one of the most interesting ways to travel.

To be honest, my reasons for advocating for public transportation are not entirely selfless. I personally hate driving in the city--as evidenced by my moving experience. I come from a place where there is plenty of space on the road and "traffic" is the line of cars leading to the local high school; the same can't be said of San Francisco, where tailgating is an art form and finding parking spaces are like trying to find Waldo.

I understand that the availability of public transportation varies from location to location. Wherever you may be--overseas, in a college town, or in your own bustling city, take some time to research all methods of transportation. Waiting until the last minute to find out how late a bus line or train runs can make all the difference when you're on the go.
No driving means catching up on sleep

Besides the efficiency and helps-you-live-on-the-cheap factors to public transportation, there is also something to be said for its entertainment value. I can't recall a single bus ride where something of interest didn't happen. Just the other night, two girls dressed up in full 1950's-themed outfits climbed aboard the bus I was on. With their polka-dotted trench coats, vintage turquoise scarves and troublemaker red lipstick, they were geared up for a night on the town. They were also quite a bit intoxicated and decided to have a mini fashion shoot in the bus aisle.

Like I said, you simply cannot ignore the entertainment factor of public transportation. And let's just be honest--you know you're listening in on those nearby conversations or discreetly admiring the boots on the girl across from you (guilty as charged). The manufactured indifference is only a product of being told that staring is "rude." Sure, staring at someone for an extended amount of time can really freak people out, but it's only natural to observe your surroundings. Especially when you're crowded up against who knows how many strangers on a moving vehicle.

Just remember that you're not the only one trying not to stare. We're curious creatures by nature--it's why so many of us travel, take part in a new adventure or simply change a daily routine. Whatever it may be, observing the world around us allows for a deeper appreciation and understanding of it. It might be silly to relate public transportation experiences to this concept, but I believe the silliest example can still open our eyes. We might continue to pretend that we're not staring, but that's just fine--there are four other senses that will do the job for us.