For most of my life I pegged myself as one of those shy, quiet types. I never normally start conversation on buses. But here I was proposing a project about talking and I had to confront my own double standard.
The concept of friendly buses to encourage more transit use was something inspired from David Engwicht many years ago. It was during concept development, my friend Paul K confronted me saying signage would not be enough to make him talk. I understood that. In October 09, when measuring the RBHW site I chickened out talking to a lady sitting at the stop. I knew in the spirit of the project, I should have talked to people at the stop that day.
SEEING THE SAME PEOPLE ON THE SAME BUS
When I lived at home, I would catch the 454, 457 and 455 buses to work and uni.
Always often seeing the same people. Like the cute redhead guy who got on at Jamboree Heights, a guy at Jindalee would never have his tie on, the guy with the glasses who lived around the corner from parents who I would see walking to the bus and he was my gauge of whether I was running late or not.
In the years I’ve moved in and out of home, away from uni, my own apartment or when overseas. When I did come back, sometimes I would still see the same people. Even years later! Like my parents these people lived in the neighbourhood for years.
I came in and out of their daily routine, as much as they were part of mine.
Familiar faces, not that I knew names or talked to them.
THE JOURNEY ON THE 455 BUS – 30 November 2009
In November 09, I felt my life changed, after doing a personal development course, Landmark Forum. It profoundly taught me open up and to “just say what I wanted to say”. It sounds weird but it felt like it taught me to talk again.
It was the Monday during my Landmark course, and I had catch the bus to work. I lived in the Valley, but I had stayed the night at my parents house in Middle Park.
This day empowered from my Landmark course
I thought to myself “Right! WHOEVER sits next to me, I’ll talk to”
A guy came on, sat down, and pulled out a magazine
I saw the magazine, took it as a sign of “do not disturb”
I respected that and didn’t talk.
A lady in purple sat in front of me
A guy with brown hair, a dad-like character I had seen got on the next stop
He starts talking to the lady in purple.
Another lady sits down and he too talks to her
I fumble a weird introduction to the lady in purple, explaining my project and she tells me they don’t know each other, only from the bus.
He was the creator of conversations on buses
“THIS is the GUY. He is the project. I need to talk to this guy!”
I thought to myself.
But I hesitate.
I think I should move to talk to the guy, but by Mt Ommaney the seats are full.
I hesitate and then resign to just talking to him when we both get off in the City.
Somewhere in the peak hour traffic jam of the Centenary Highway, and reflecting on some comments by Paul K about how the graphics alone would not prompt talking, it occurs to me to ‘program myself” to start conversation. That ANY conversation takes someone taking the first move.
We reach Roma St Station, the lady in purple moves to get off
I think “Perfect, I’ll move to her seat to talk to the guy”.
He then stands up and walks off my bus. He walks off!!!
And in an instant this feels like the metaphor for my life, as I had learnt in Landmark. Not just saying things when I wanted to say. Not taking action. I’ve let people ‘walk off my bus’, and then wonder about disappointments.
To try to learn from this. I catch the other lady who sat in front of me, at the last City stop. Explaining my project, I gave her my business card requesting her to give to the guy next time she saw him.
She said in a laugh after I told her it was about talking on buses “Oh yeah, that guy, he talks to everyone!”
I hoped he might contact me, to have his words on my artwork panels, but he never did.
Before the artwork launch, I hope to find that guy again. I know what stop he gets on.