By Jessica Tsang
For the past two weeks, I have been riding on the King County Metro to and from the International District. I have never taken the bus by myself for such a long period of time, so I’ve had a lot of new experiences. From the first day, I started to notice some unspoken etiquette for riding public transit. There are minute differences in the customs — or habits, if you will — of riding the bus in the morning and riding it in the afternoon.
Sitting in the last row on the first day, it was hard not to notice the large number of people looking down. At what, you may ask? This brings us to my first rule: Everyone brings something to pass the time — a music player, book, crossword puzzle, phone. Some opt to drift in and out of sleep.
With this comes the second rule: Keep the silence. Not once have I heard a greeting shared between two strangers on the bus, much less a conversation. Because of these distracting devices, we are deprived of social contact. It takes two to have a conversation, after all, and if one is distracted, it just doesn’t work. I’ve tried to converse with multiple people, and only succeeded once (it was a short chat, at that). It is extremely difficult to try and talk to someone who has earbuds in their ears and their eyes glued to a phone.
Since when has it become socially acceptable to sit in silence with another person without acknowledging their presence? It may be awkward, but I believe that it shows at least some respect to your fellow neighbor. On the bus I take, there is a solid 20-minute travel without stops, which is enough time for a short conversation, and yet there are none.
It’s a vicious cycle that promotes being anti-social, living in a bubble of urban solitude, and being alone … together. (end)
Editor’s note: This story was written by a Summer Youth Leadership Program student, not a Northwest Asian Weekly staff member.