Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The talking guy on the bus...

The train was running late today and I decided to hop off at an earlier station so that I could catch the bus to work. When I eventually got onto the bus I noticed the geeky-looking guy who always seems to be engaged in some kind of conversation with a random commuter. This time he was talking to a first year science student about classical music. I have seen him enough times to know that he will strike up a conversation with anyone who happens to sit near him and no topic seems to be off limits (last time, he was probing a young asian woman about her religious beliefs). It amuses me to see that he is completely unaware of the body language of the people that he talks to.. He will persist until they relax their shoulders and start to open up to him. It is a fantastically wonderful process to watch. Most of us, I think, are too painfully self-aware to engage with strangers at that level. And I think it is sad because we are conditioned to be self conscious, to feel shame or embarrassment, to learn what is acceptable conversation with strangers and what is not. This guy on the bus seems to have retained the characteristics that most of us tend to display as young children...daring, unafraid and uncomfortably confronting. It's no wonder that he manages to entice a smile out of even the most steeley-looking of commuters.

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