It is fascinating to observe people in transit – on the street, in trains, in stations – any place where they are between 2 activities or locations, and really have no specific thing to be doing.
Everyone is different. And yet there are some general types that most people tend to fall into.
There are those who turn inwards – it is as if they want to stay in a cocoon of their own making and not let the world intrude. These are the people who will be intently listening to music, will stare into the distance or close their eyes. They are there, yet not there.
The “avoiders” will not look at anybody in the eye. They will pull out their phone and fiddle with it, will look at their watch, fumble inside their bag, look down as they are walking. They are immensely uncomfortable at any human contact or connect that may happen.
Let us not forget the “very busy, very important”. If they are walking, they will have an intense “I need to get there. Don’t get in my way” attitude. It is the funniest feeling to have one of these people run into you – most don’t even acknowledge it with a glance up. If they are standing or sitting, they will look away if you catch their eye, their body stiff and alert – as if raring to just “get there”
Then there are the “need to use every moment” or “will get bored if I am not doing something”. These people will pull out books, games, printouts, laptops, smartphones…and get lost in it as if it is a cross-country trip. They will always be on the phone if they are driving or walking, as if there is an urgent need to fill every minute with activity and action.
There are the proud/hassled parents of young kids – they are lost in the kid, too busy really to see what else happening and who’s there. Their eyes on the lookout only to ensure that the kids are safe and in a controllable sphere.
Similarly there are the newly romantic. Too lost in each other, and the urgency of young romance to care about or notice the rest of the world.
Groups of youngsters, high in spirit and self conscious about their image in the peer group; bravado, their face to the world. You can see the subconscious wish for attention in all they do – the loud laughs, the jostling, the quick looks around.
And in all this “crowd”, if we look carefully, we find the few that do not fit a type… who are enjoying the transit, are in the transit and not just waiting to get to “a destination”.
The man who starts talking to the person next to him about the book he is reading or something they notice. The guy who stops walking and offers to help another carry a bag, pulls a door open when he sees somebody walk towards one with hands full, gets up and offers his seat to another (most people offer seats to the old, to women…how many have you seen get up and offer their seat to somebody because they sat for a while and just want to give another person a chance to sit for a bit too?).
The guy who smiles if you catch his eye. The guy who is leaning back or lounging, who almost “strolls” as he walks. The guy who walks by you, humming.
The person who pauses and looks at the commonplace, yet beautiful – we see tourists stopping and admiring stuff, take pictures; but so few people just going about their normal business stop and look, maybe take a picture, enjoy the moment.
The person who is doing nothing – is just letting the surroundings, the people, the moment sink in, as he sits and looks.
Each of us falls into every one of the “types” at one time or the other, based on the mood, the day, the moment. But we each also have our most usual, our typical commute persona.
“What is this life if full of care,We have no time to stand and stare… No time to turn at beauty’s glance, And watch her feet – how they can dance”.