Take, for example, the bus. This semester, I have committed to riding the bus as often as I can wake myself up in time to catch it. Riding the bus is great for a lot of reasons: I drive my car less (which means I spend less money on fuel and my life becomes slightly less harmful to the environment), I tend to get to class on time since the bus schedule is, for the most part, reliable, and I avoid that horrible, emotionally-damaging task that is CSU parking.
At this point in the semester, I feel like I’ve pretty much got the bus-riding thing down. I amble over to the bus stop a few minutes before it’s supposed to arrive. There are usually a few other people, mostly students, waiting for the bus as well. We keep the designated stranger distance of five feet between us while we stand waiting on the sidewalk. No words are exchanged, just some sideways glances as we look down the street to see if the bus is headed our way yet.
When it finally arrives, we slowly herd ourselves, cattle-style, onto the bus. If it’s a busy time (or, worse, if it snowed the night before), our five-foot personal space bubble is popped and we manage, somehow, to crowd in without touching anyone around us. If you end up standing, your backside will most likely be in someone’s face and you wish you would have grabbed a piece of gum that morning, because you are definitely within breath-smelling distance of your neighbors. A lot of people wear headphones and, for such a crowded space, it’s very quiet. If there is a conversation going on, everyone riding the bus listens in, since there’s really nothing else to do on the 10-20 minute ride to campus. Once our destination is reached, we scurry off the bus and breathe a sigh of relief that the awkward ride is over. We managed to get from home to school without uttering a single word to another person.
Here’s my question to you, fellow students: When did it become normal to ignore the people who are only six inches from you? When it comes to acknowledging the existence of human life that is right beside us, we are failing. Everyone around us has a story; every life has struggles and triumphs and is important. Everyone deserves a “Hey, how are ya?” at least once during their day. If you’ve ever had the rare privilege of being on the receiving end of a friendly comment from a stranger (shout out to the nice guy who works the cash register at Morgan’s Grind), you know how nice it is. You really can tell if someone is looking at you or if they’re seeing right through you, barely noticing there’s a person in front of them.
I know this is starting to sound deep, and I’m not asking you to delve into the childhood experiences and emotional well-being of everyone you meet. I am simply asking us to start acknowledging each other whenever our paths cross. Start with a wave and smile. Once you’ve got that down, try saying hello and asking people how they’re doing. Perhaps you’ll even begin to strike up conversations with the people sitting beside you on your bus ride to class. Doing these things might surprise some people or catch them off guard; like I said, face-to-face conversation is becoming a rare thing. I can guarantee, though, that by showing people they matter through friendly conversation, you are going to brighten someone’s day. Let’s give it a try, because everyone deserves to be acknowledged.
– When it comes to acknowledging the people that are around us, we are failing.
– Riding the bus is a good example of this.
-Showing people they matter through friendly conversation should become commonplace.