So I take the bus most days. Public transport is better for the environment, my wallet, and parking in town is hard to find where I live. The suburb I live in is city-fringe and not poor (although my abode is a simple one-bedroom flat – see previous post). Now I like to watch people to see the balance between peculiarities that make us individuals and the conformity that keeps civility. Most people on the bus route that I join about half-way in its journey are peaceful looking, normal folk who listen to music, read, or just stare out the window on the commute. But this story isn’t about my reaction to one of them – it’s about a reaction to me. The incident occurred on the walk from the bus stop to my home. I got offthe bus with one other person on the day in question. She was middle-aged, had some red hair highlights but otherwise looked like an office worker like myself. The walk from the bus stop took us accross the road, past a car-park area, and into residential zones. It was early evening and the sun was shining. She walked in front of me and I kept a socially-appropriate distance (a few metres). It was as we were getting to the parked cars that she reached into her handbag and withdrew a bunch of keys. Not unusual, I thought – she must “park and ride”. Then it happened… she placed the keys in between her fingers and kept walking.
It struck me that, as we were the only people visible on the street, she saw me as a potential threat. In recalling this annecdote to a firend, I was reassured that I didn’t look “rapey” at all and perhaps it was just a sign of the times we live in – people are afraid of each other. Really? How sad – I would sooner hug a stranger than look to defend myself against them. Does this make me the mad one?