Monday, March 23, 2009

Commuter Anxiety - The People we sit next to

There are many types of anxiety plagued by commuters. This one is rather taboo and not widely spoken about. The anxiety over the people we sit next to on public transport.

The bus pulls up and is relatively empty, I walk up the aisle and slide into a double vacant seat and sit next to the window (Opera House side to get the good view).

As more people get on the bus, I secretly hope that no one sits next to me. I like the freedom of space and can put my bags on the spare seat. Bus stops again. I know, I know, it is naive to think the bus won't fill. I decide to move my bags to my lap so someone can sit next to me. I'm now anxious to know, who will sit next to me. I can see the line of people getting on and I try to work out who is the one to sit next to me while avoiding direct eye contact.

Someone can only sit next to me if:
  1. They are relatively normal/good looking.
  2. They must also look awake. I don't want someone drifting off to sleep wanting to let their head rest on my shoulder or worse still, they don't wake up while I want to get out and off the bus.
  3. They must smell either neutral or nice. (no B.O., morning breath or overkill of perfume).
  4. No fatties! I choose not to be squashed up with my cheek pressed up against the window, entertaining those who drive or in other buses.
  5. Minimal baggage and not a broadsheet newspaper reader. (although if you're a good looking bloke, feel free to ignore this one.)
  6. Above the age of 18. No kiddies, no crying, no kicking the seats.

More stops, more people. However, it's now getting to a point where everyone around me is sitting next to someone else. I then suddenly realise that the seat next to me is vacant! A new anxiety has arrived.

"Why isn't someone sitting next to me?" "Am I the ugly person no one wants to sit next to?" "Is there something in my hair or teeth?" "What's wrong with me?"

I have been that girl who's seat is empty when the rest of the bus is full. I feel like an outcast and that I have some sort of deformity. I have also seen those on the bus sitting alone. I feel their pain but I still wonder what is wrong with them.

The bus lets more people on and finally someone sits next to me. I am de-stressing and oh Shiz! Whats with the doof-doof music? Time to add another rule.

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