Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Public Transport III - vignettes

Continuing with the religious theme, there was another flavour of loon on the bus last night. He had a classic strange behaviour of speaking in a conversational tone and volume to persons who were clearly ignoring him. It's as if the association between speaking-style and interaction-type have only been partially learned. The style is correct but applied inappropriately - instead of being a true interaction he voices his thoughts about the person he is addressing even though they are not voluntarily engaged in the conversation. Perhaps he thinks this is what we are all doing when we speak directly to one another, just airing our thoughts about the other person. Perhaps, in a way, he's right. Anyway, when his accidental companion left and he had noone to talk 'to', he began to kiss the individual fibres of a tassle on his bag as if they were rosary beads. He repeated this a number of times before moving on crossing himself with very large motions - only just keeping within the space of the seats. He seemed kindly and innocent, which was nice.

This bus ride was coincidentally shared by someone I have seen before. A sweet, naive-looking young man with blond hair, blue eyes, and flushed, rosy cheeks. He is always dressed very soberly in a black suit and tie and holds a clip-board, giving him an overall air of earnest teen. His prominent name badge declares him to be 'Elder Anderson' of The Church of Latter Day Saints. Perhaps it was just the suit but I started to look for an earpiece and disturbances in the fabric of reality.

When I got off the bus and crossed the road it was clear that something had crashed into the traffic light controls. The walk/ don't walk post was tilted and loops of electrical cable spilled from its base. Rather than being put out by the damage, the main traffic lights flickered and throbbed - stuttering red with a thready pulse of amber both interspersed with an occasional bright green flare. Amazing how something so thoroughly inanimate could give such a strong impression of being in pain.

Another loon. His main characteristic was the usual social aberrance - talking to strangers as though they were listening. Nobody joined his conversation. Into the empty space around him, he thoughtfully commented, "Ahh, 1987." It sounded as though he had just found something he thought he had lost.


Elliot said...

Just wanted to say, I really liked this post, and thought your descriptions were elegant. Sounds like quite a good city for being inspired to write. Much like my bus to work, which is peppered with teens with tinny phones rather than loons. Also seem to be a disproportionate number of blind passengers: not that this is bad, just remarkable.

Natalie Andrew said...

Thanks Elliot, I think I might be getting a little OTT but it's fun to write this way so who cares really. I do feel a little like I am stealing when I pay so much attention to people passing - but you're right, there's more to write about than I can justify spending time on. I expect it's as inspiring at home but here I notice things more because I'm looking for the distinctions (small as they may be around here) between British and American culture.

Elliot said...

You can never get too OTT: I think people are sometimes too scared to be baroque, in case people think they're showing off or sound like a teenager. But if you do it well (I think you did) I reckon you can pull it off. Though I didn't think your descriptions were OTT anyway.

Natalie Andrew said...

Flatterer :D

Anonymous said...

Ahhh people watching at it's best! Made me smile, thanks! Sian xx