Now that I have been living right by a bus stop and working first near and then in the city center for something like seven or eight months, I have started to feel like a true commuter, taking the same bus to work each morning, taking the same bus back home every day after work. Unless I drive to a customer. Or stay at home, working remotely, which I like to do once or twice a week.
So, anyway, I’m riding that same bus to work almost every morning.
After my morning routines, I pull on my shoes and my jacket and acknowledge my “que bus” – the slower route bus that drives past three minutes before mine comes to the stop – roaming by, nobody usually getting on it, well, because it’s slower and not many people are headed to the suburbs between us and the city center and its outskirts.
I get out of the door, kiss my boyfriend goodbye on the porch where he steps out to have a smoke, and sometimes linger there talking with him while waiting the bus if the other regular commuters happen to be on the bus stop already, so I can be sure there’s somebody signaling the bus to stop.
If I walk to the stop before the bus comes, there’s some slight nods and muttered good mornings, sometimes some pleasantries like “looks like its gonna be a beautiful day” or “this snow really ought to melt already” or “the forecast promised nicer weather for tomorrow”. I mean, who says Finns don’t do small talk?
Okay, I admit that mostly there’s barely that nod. Mostly it’s just an awkward gaze of recognition, like a “aha, you’re here again today too”, right before averting eyes again. Sometimes there’s a true Finnish “don’t come too close, I want my private space!” thing going on, but that usually happens only at odd hours. The commuters are mostly past that, accepting the silent company of each other.
So, mostly. But there’s always some chatter going on. Young adults or late teens who used to go to school together. Neighbors who have been neighbors for decades. And the occasional strange person (me, me!) who simply starts to talk with the other person for no good reason. Just because something worth sharing (at least in my own mind) pops to my head and I need to say it out loud.
In my more extroverted phase in life, that was even quite common. Nowadays I, too, mostly prefer to keep to myself. But I did happen to open my mouth last autumn while standing on the bus stop with this lady who lives somewhere between our stop and the previous one, and we have been changing at least good mornings and maybe some little chatting about nothing special every now and then while traveling to work.
Other than that, I bury my nose in my iPad or phone during the twenty minute bus trip. In the mornings I read tech news from Flipboard and Hesari (the local daily news) with Chrome and Facebook with Safari. In the afternoon, on my way back, it’s my book on Kindle. I used to read news and books on my phone, but then decided that I can just as well use my phone as the internet hub and use the more convenient iPad.
The afternoon bus has a more varied set of people. Quite rarely do I see any of the morning commuters in that bus. But a couple times I have bumped into a friend of mine when I have broken my routine (ahem, there’s a nice bar right across the street from our office…) and taken a different bus home.
I have sort of grown to enjoy the leisurely bus rides, when I can read and leave the driving to others. Except that in the afternoon (even when skipping the bar, like most days ;) ) the air in the bus is more often than not so stale that I feel nauseous half of the ride home.
This commuting brigs a certain routine to my days, as I need to be sticking to a bus schedule. And that’s not entirely a bad thing, especially considering my tendency to stretch my mornings as late as I possibly can ;)