9 Southgate

Riding the bus to and/or from work with the same group of people is a little bit of a strange situation. All you know about the person outside of the bus is where they get on and/or off, and all you know about the person inside of the bus is where they prefer to sit, what they do on their smartphone, and what sorts of conversations they have with their friends/phones/random people who like to talk to strangers. And yet there’s this odd dynamic that exists between us when we have the same stop, particularly on the way home. The last stretch between stops on my way home consists of a very narrow one-way bridge which is very slow-going during rush hour. Now, I don’t want to ring the bell as soon as it gets onto the bridge, because I know that it could take a good fifteen minutes to cross said bridge, and I don’t want to prematurely take away the potential time-passing activity of reaching up and pulling the string/pushing the button (depending, of course, where I’m sitting). Also, since I know there are other people getting off at my stop, I don’t want to seem like a keener trying to beat everyone else to ringing the bell. And, just between you and me, there’s this aspect of feeling somewhat powerful by inwardly refusing to be the one to ring the bell, like I’ve won if I’m not the one that gives in to the peer pressure. Why should I be the one, when there are at least three other able-bodied people who could do the dirty work of producing that annoying sound and unpleasant red light? It’s really almost zen-like to calmly sit the whole span of the bridge, not moving my arm one millimeter towards the string/button.

But then, there are some days when I worry: what if my stop mates have errands to run before going home and are staying on the bus a couple stops longer? What if they’ve figured out that I’m playing this mind game with them and they’re now standing their ground? What if the bus driver only stops if given sufficient notice and blows past my stop, increasing my walk home by 10 minutes? What if not being the ringer of the bell has an unwanted butterfly effect that changes my life as I know it?

Needless to say, I lost the battle today, and rung the bell. But tomorrow, oh tomorrow…

The photo above is an outfit (by Ukrainian label kamenskayakononova) which would steel me against ringing the bell. Because if I reached up, who knows what sort of show I’d be putting on for those slackers who couldn’t use one measly joule to ring the darn thing themselves. The below photos are outfits (also by kamenskayakononova) that would make me not care who rang the bell, as I would strut the whole way home and not even take the bus.

(Photos via NJAL)
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