My 3 Favorite Things To Do When Riding The Bus

3 Favorite Things To Do When Riding The Bus

There are many things I like about riding the bus, but I think these are my three favorite things to do when riding the bus.

Eavesdrop

Eavesdropping is one of the greatest pleasures on the bus.  Those small snippets of conversation give you a peek into another person’s day or give you something to wonder about.

Sometimes you need to listen carefully and sometimes you cannot help but hear the conversations of strangers.

While riding the bus I’ve heard couples fighting, vacation plans being made, someone calling in “sick” to work, a woman bragging about her upcoming plastic surgeries (“I’m getting everything taken care of at once”), college students chatting excitedly about their new classes, and a price negotiation over drugs.

I shared a story here about listening to a phone conversation on the bus (turns out another rider was as well).   Admit it, you like eavesdropping too!

Giving Directions

I am not sure why, but I love being able to give people directions while on the bus, especially out-of-towners.  Anytime I see someone with a suitcase and a map I’m ready to spring into action.

I’ll never forget the time I gave a couple of business men from Texas, “just in town for a conference”, directions to Powell’s Books .  We were on the streetcar in downtown Portland, making small talk on the way to our destinations and as the streetcar entered the South Park Blocks, tall trees lining the busy Portland State University campus, they both fell silent, looking amazed at the scenery.  And I fell even more in love with Portland.

Reading  

Riding the bus means I’ve got quiet time for reading built into my day. On my way to and from work I have a half-hour or so to get lost in a novel or catch up magazine articles. I’ve read many a book on the bus, I just finished The Wishing Year and now I am reading The Outlander.

I always have something to read with me, I even have criteria for what I carry.  It has to be light weight, a paperback book or magazine do nicely, it cannot be something I’d be sad to lose should I happen to leave it behind and it should not require intense concentration.

Reading can be a good way to start a conversation.  Maybe you’ve read a common book, like I did here with someone who had read My Stroke of Insight or, if it’s a book you are curious about, a great opportunity to ask how the book is.

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Reading & Riding

One thing I enjoy about the bus is the time it affords me to read.  In those 30 minutes or so on my way to and from work I’ve finished many a novel.Every time I am on the bus I see others reading.  Just this past week in the morning on bus line 75 I saw:

  • A man in a suit reading Carpenter’s Gothic by William Gaddis
  • A day-laborer reading the daily Oregonian
  • A 20-something fellow in torn jeans and a hoodie reading Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  • A young woman, she seemed high school age, reading O. Henry’s Roads of Destiny  which you can read for free here through the Project Gutenberg
  • A few people Reading the Willamette Weekly,Portland’s free weekly paper
  • A woman on her way to the office reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, which has been on my nightstand to read for more than a few months