So, today I had two exams. It was a pretty nerve wracking day. I was prepared but panicky, carrying around massive study guides all day and only taking my nose out of them long enough to actually do the exams.
And long enough to notice the curious bunch of humans I was trapped with. I spent a total of six hours on public transport today, two trains and a bus. In my travels, I came across the following assortment of characters:
The cheerful vaguely religious flirty guy. (He defies explanation).
“What are you studying?”
Me: “Ancient History at the moment.”
The cheerful vaguely religious flirty guy and I continue the small talk. Or rather he asks questions, trying to keep the conversation afloat and I politely answer whilst studying out of the corner of my eye. He grins at me the entire 8 minutes of our conversation. I worry that his gauge of girls’ interest is undeveloped. Eventually, we come to his stop. He reassures me (cheerfully) that I can return to studying now. Oh, and-
I think about this odd encounter for about 5 seconds before picking up where I left off – in Ancient Sparta.
The next character to pique my interest is after my exams are done and I am back on the train, struggling not to fall asleep:
The scraggly, chirpy old guy who smells of beer.
He is unshaven, loud and wearing dirty clothes. He talks to many people in the carriage, all of them obvious strangers. I manage to escape his conversation attempts, probably due to my headphones and the fact that I kept nodding off. For all I know, he did try to strike up a conversation, but I was too hung-over from exams to respond.
Anyway, despite his appearance (and slight odour), the scraggly, chirpy guy is remarkably upbeat and even eloquent at times. In between naps, I watch him happily reminiscing about his younger days with a startled couple in their 20’s and then discussing sports with a couple of young boys before sharing his philosophy on life with a wary older couple. Then the scraggly, chirpy old guy who smells of beer wanders off to the next carriage.
Suddenly, the guy reappears. He has lost his cigarettes. He asks a few people if they have seen them. The couples haven’t seem them. The young boys haven’t seen them. The guy shrugs, smiles and gets off at the next stop.
For those of you keeping score at home, that is two interesting characters that I have observed today. Before I describe the third, I would like to add that after I had gotten off the train, I saw those young boys smoking cigarettes as they rode their scooters out of the station.
The next character I encountered was on the bus:
The man with the memory of a goldfish (and the vanity of – what’s that guy’s name who feel into the water because he was so enamoured with his own reflection? That’s going to bug me now!)
The bus was crowded, so I headed to an empty seat towards the back and proceeded to put in my headphones and rest my eyes. Reflected in the glass panel in front of my seat was a man with perfectly styled ash blonde hair. I might never have noticed his hair, however had he not been inspecting it in the bus window’s reflection. The guy would turn this way and that way, checking to see that his hair was perfect from absolutely every angle. His constant movement is what caught my attention. When he wasn’t (I just remembered!) being Narcissus, the man would turn to someone on the bus and ask them what time it would get to his destination. They would give him an approximated guess and he would thank them. A few minutes would pass, people would get off the bus and new people would get on and Narcissus would switch seats and ask someone near him what time the bus would get to his destination. They would reply. And this happened again. And again. The other people on the bus started exchanging incredulous looks. The guy would also regularly check his hair in the bus window.
Eventually, I was freed from the bus. And public transport for the day. A woman who lives near me and got off at the same stop turned around and remarked, “Don’t you meet the weirdest people on public transport?”
I laughed and waved goodbye. As I walked to my house, it occurred to me.
I take public transport.
Picture source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:OCTA_Bus_View_01.jpg