After a few minutes a very tall girl with long brown hair who I would later learn was a Parsons design student, broke social convention, turned to her fellow benchmates, and said, “My God, wasn’t today beautiful.” At first she just got a few quiet affirmations,”yeah, gorgeous”, “best day yet” etc, but then a young woman in a business suit again broke social convention and revealed personal information: “It was so nice, when I woke up I decided I didn’t want to feel miserable about anything, and broke up with my boyfriend. I ditched him at 7:30 in the morning. He didn’t know what hit him.”
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the unspoken walls that prohibit conversation between individuals in public. I’ve experienced this in many places in America, but it’s become more noticeable to me in Seattle particularly with the daily hour-long bus riders to and from work. Unless you speak to a person first or have previously established a rapport, people are hesitant to speak to you. The omnipresence of cell phones and iPods doesn’t make this any easier.
On the bus, I must have a presence of unapproachability (as stated, the iPod doesn’t make this easier). I find myself oftentimes being one of the last bus seats to acquire a second person when the ride gets full. Do I look like a big (overweight) scary (frowning) white guy?
(Insert pause for a runaway train:
I originally found the Heading East post from Raul via Kottke
. I started browsing through some of the art and photos on Heading East and got distracted by this photo. It’s one of the best I’ve seen.
I ended up browsing through Eliot Shephard’s other photos on Flickr also. Additionally, I ran across an interesting art project called 20×200.
This is as close as the internet can get to ______________. IM, IRC, forums, and Digg don’t count. Try listening to The Album Leaf while you’re on the train.)
Return to the tracks:
Martin has been working on talking to women lately. During his brief period of unemployment while he’s waiting for his new job to begin, he set a goal for himself of talking to three women a day. He took to the internet in search for advise.
Now, I probably wouldn’t do it this way, but he found some advice columns from various male resources. Apparently some of these tricks work:
• talk to the woman within three seconds of making contact (eye-contact, arriving next to each other, whatever)
• say something funny (sarcasm doesn’t count… sorry, guys)
• say something belittling — now, this is one step I wouldn’t be likely to use myself, but I guess some girls respond well to this. e.g. “I like your outfit, that’s pretty cool. Although, I think blue would be a better color on you.” (I would never try to give out fashion advice.)
Apparently the idea is to get them to want to earn your interest instead of vice versa.
Instead of just trying to pick up girls or get their attention, I’ve made a few general attempts of spurring conversation the last few days. I managed to discuss the weather and daylight savings time with one of the men who waits for the same bus I do when heading downtown.
While actually on the bus, I’m still working on it.
One man who rides the bus apparently isn’t afraid of breaking taboos. He sits in his seat talking on his cell phone no matter who is around or what’s going on carrying on lengthy conversations. At the end of one of the phone calls, he wished the other person a happy birthday. While holding the phone in his left hand a few inches from his face, he took out his harmonica, held it to his mouth, and played a rendition of the Happy Birthday song.
But I’ve never seen harmonica-man talk with anyone on the bus.