On the bus on my way to work this morning there was a piece in the “24 Hours”? daily in which the reporter asked both men and women how easy it was to meet other people in the city. (I forget the exact wording, but you get the idea.)
Among the small group sampled, the consensus goes something like this: People you meet on the street (and I’m casting a broad, poorly sewn net here) are just generally not that outwardly friendly. In Montreal, according to one woman from the article, strangers you pass on the sidewalk are much more likely to make eye contact and smile. In Vancouver, chances are they’ll look the other way.
Now I don’t know if this is a recent thing or if I’ve only recently noticed it, but I think she’s right. Not only downtown, but in the suburbs too, the more I look for the friendly smile from passer-bys, the harder it is to find. Upon returning from a recent trip to a Midwest US state, the effect was more pronounced. People down there seemed “friendlier”? and strangers on the street were at least more likely to acknowledge that you actually existed.
Anyway, off the bus and on the SkyTrain platform that same morning, an interesting coincidence: As I was walking up the stairs, a train was arriving in the station. And because my morning schedule is such that if I make every transit connection seamlessly I arrive perfectly on time, I naturally started running (well, jogging) to ensure I would get on the busy train. See, the problem is you have to run all the way to the front car because the back few are always packed.
As an aside, why don’t people more naturally distribute themselves to the different cars? I never really understood that. I mean, you’ve got people pushing to cram themselves into one car while there are still free seats in another”? But I digress.
So I’m jogging to the empty car when this woman (younger) who was standing waiting to get into one of the busy cars stepped back slightly and her handbag swung directly into my path. I’m fairly athletic, but it was too late to alter course so I ran straight into it, knocking it out or her hand and a few meters across the platform. Ooops.
Naturally I look back and yell “I’m sorry”? as she yells “hey!”? Now the big decision. The doors are about to close at any second and I’ve still got a little ways to go to get to the empty car. I can easily read the look on her face: She wants desperately to yell something like “Fuck you jerk!”?, but thankfully she doesn’t “? I’ve already attracted enough negative attention to myself this morning. So do I go back and pick up her bag or get on the train and make it to work on time? As I sat down at my desk at 7:59, I couldn’t help but feeling a little disheartened at my decision”? I’ve never really thought that’s who I was, yet that split second decision seems to speak lots about who I’ve become. Maybe I’ve been living in Vancouver for too long.