We’re all creatures of habit whether we realise it or not. Since I gave up driving the car to work almost a year ago, I’ve got to “know” the various people who share the luxurious confines of the Bus Eireann coach for a couple of hours each day. I’ve observed their habits and characteristics. They are familiar strangers to me.
I’m well aware of most of my habits – in the morning I invariably opt for a seat on the right hand side in the same spot. On the return journey I sit on the opposite side but “mix it up” a little and choose a random seat. I’ve no idea why, but I do.
An observer would also notice I read the newspaper for about the first 1/2 hour in the morning. Then my headphones go on and I typically doze off. I’m sure I have other little habits too, but those are the ones I am aware of.
Here’s a few habits and characteristics of my other travelling companions – those familiar strangers.
Mr. Gadgets – I like my gadgets, but this Mr. G is weighed down with them. He has a laptop, iPhone, mobile phone and heaven knows what else. Huffing and puffing onto the bus every evening, I swear a vein is going to explode in his head sometime. If ever there was a candidate to disconnect from the wired world for a couple of hours, it’s him.
Mrs. Herald – She reads it cover to cover every evening without fail. During the winter months, will also check the light above the seat to make sure it is working before she sits down. Husband picks her up when she gets off and I’ll bet they have a right old chinwag about all the days news.
Mr. Grey – If he isn’t an accountant I would be very surprised. Always has to sit in an aisle seat, and 9 times out of 10 will always select the seat next to a female even if there are plenty of empty seats available. Sleeps most of the way in the morning with his head almost in his lap. Must have a weak spine.
Lifelong workmates – Every Friday evening, two men in their early 50′s get on at one point outside a small industrial estate. I’m guessing that they leave the cars at home on Friday and have a few pints after work before getting the bus. If you want local news, just sit behind these 2 men and you will get more of it than you would reading the local rag. Every second word out of their mouth is fuck or fucking.
Pillow boy – Brings a second coat with him so he can use it as a pillow. His head hits that coat pillow within 2 or 3 minutes of boarding. Always looks very comfy and content. Snores sometimes which makes people smile. That was during the winter months – so this particular habit is seasonal with him.
Last on board – He must be over 70 and he always, always waits for everyone else to board in the evening before he boards himself. Even if you gesture for him to go ahead before you, he’ll not hear of it. Bet he has a story to tell.
Lady Penelope and Jeeves – Retired couple on the bus 2 or 3 times a week usually. He is laden down with bags following after her – only thing she carries is a handbag. She almost beats the door down to be first on to get a seat right at the back. I’ve often been tempted to ask her how come she nevers carries anything when quite often he struggles with the days shopping haul.
Smokey Rave boy – Loves his music which is great but must have really bad hearing as I can hear the throbbing beat of the house music 6 or 7 seats away. I don’t understand the need to have them so loud. Always finishing a smoke when the bus pulls up at his stop. Can’t get on until he’s had 5 or 6 really deep drags.
The Intellectuals – 2 guys always get on at the same stop. One is a college lecturer/student advisor and the other works in IT. The lecturer speaks rather loudly and strikes me as a bit of a know it all. IT guy is easily his match in the know it all stakes. It’s like listening to someone reading the Economist out loud. 2 very cerebral peas in a pod.
The Doctor – I’m guessing he’s a doctor but he had the really annoying habit of ALWAYS choosing the empty seat beside me in the morning even though plenty of other seats were free. One particular morning I got up late after little sleep – I was hungry, cold and feeling crap. He did his usual and plonked into the seat next to me. I had heaphones on and muttered “for fuck sake” a bit louder than I intended, which he obviously heard. He hasn’t sat near me since. I know, I know, that was his habit, but he was a leg spreader which annoyed me too and I don’t like touching knees or any other body part with a stranger on a bus, thank you very much.
Any familiar stranger stories yourself?