Bus people stories: I commend her for fitting everyone into one seat.

Riding the bus keeps my morning commute interesting.

A couple of days ago, I sat down next to a woman gazing out the window. As I did, another woman across from me looked up, eyes wide, and then very deliberately directed her attention back down again. A few others in the immediate vicinity exchanged glances, but said nothing. Concerned that I was guilty of breach in bus protocol, I did quick check of my position and belongings. Everything was reasonably contained within my own personal space. Remembered to swipe bus pass. Music is off. All clear – no social transgression detected.

After a few minutes, I became aware of the woman next to me murmuring softly to herself. I didn’t think too much of it – people occasionally wear headphones and sing along to whatever they are listening to. Then I noticed that her voice bore the cadence of speech, not song, so I looked over to see if she was addressing me, or just speaking on the phone.

She was doing neither of these things.

She was still looking at the window. Or rather at something within the window that was for her alone to see. She seemed to be conversing with two separate individuals, shifting her attention to each in turn, pausing where appropriate – presumably to allow the others to speak. To one, she spoke in English, to the other, in what sounded like French. I considered perhaps she was just practicing for a language class, or maybe rehearsing lines from a play. I would not have immediately assumed college student by age (forty or fifty-ish in appearance) but certainly a possibility.

Lost in speculation, I do not know how long the scene held my attention – apparently long enough for one of her unseen companions to point out that her seat-mate was eavesdropping on their conversation. Halfway through her sentence, she stopped, turned to a section of window and said “Hmm? . . .Oh”, then turned to ask me if I needed something.

I responded “No, I was just looking out the, uh . . .” and made a vague gesture toward the window. She looked puzzled, but nodded and turned back around. I got the impression that she was sort of put off.

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