Monday, September 28, 2015

A-wake on the bus?

Last week I was shocked by something I didn’t hear on the bus. That is to say, I didn’t hear a thing. And it was a very busy bus, jam packed with people on their way to work – so busy that several of us were standing in the aisle. And yet, for the entire 15 minute duration of my short commute into Newcastle, I didn’t hear one conversation. Not even a monologue , no giggling schoolgirls, no crying babies or shushing parents. The silence was only broken by the creaks and moans of the bus itself, and the feint tinny jangling of someone’s headphones.

And it really bothered me. I’m not sure why, or even if, I should be so irked by this. I mean, some people would no doubt love to have such a peaceful and calm carriage to work. But I hated it.  I’ve travelled on quiet buses before, but never on one so full and yet so silent. I found myself wondering if this was a stereotypically British thing  - I couldn’t imagine this scenario happening in New York, Delhi or Paris.

Of course, I also couldn’t help thinking that it is simply a sign of these digital times – times when we are so busy communicating with our vast social networks that we can’t possibly spare the time or the energy to converse with those around us. And before you accuse me of being some middle aged fart of a Luddite, I must reject at least the last part of that description. I love my smartphone as much as the next man, possibly more, given the amazing access it gives me to stuff that would previously have been simply out of reach of me and my dysfunctional eyes. However, it’s nice occasionally to turn to that next man and discuss last night’s TV with him, or the football results,  the weather, the state of the roads, or whatever.

As a blind person I have grown accustomed to the sinking realisation that occurs when I work out that I’m talking to someone who  is not there. I guess it is just going to happen more often now, even when I know they are sitting right beside me. So, I’ll keep quiet like everyone else.


No comments: