Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Being a perpetual cry-baby and other hazards of using public transport

People watching is painful

I've always had to suppress the urge to burst into tears for absolutely no reason. It usually happens when I see something touching or emotional on TV (including adverts). I don't really know why I do this because I don't actually cry that often or that easily. Its more like a choked up feeling or a sudden welling up of tears but always in response to something that really doesn't merit crying!

Lately I've noticed that normal, day-to-day things make me emotional, like people on the bus. This may sound bizarre so I'll try to explain when this might happen. Usually it is triggered by old people, overweight people, people with kids, people with guide dogs, disabled people, blind people, and, now and again, a passing ambulance or police car with people in it. I'm just sitting on the bus minding my own business, taking a little look around the bus, checking out who gets on, where they sit, etc. Then *bam* a little old lady out for her weekly trip into town struggles on with her shopping bags and counts out her change from her tatty old purse, trying to converse with the unresponsive bus driver and staggering along the aisle to a seat, swaying precariously as the bus driver speeds off without bothering to wait for her to get settled. Well, that's me gone. If I catch her eye, its even worse. I have to smile. I have to show that I'm nice and friendly and not staring in a horrible, impatient way for her to find a seat. Inside I'm trying to gulp down tears and my imagination is running wild about how lonely she is and how cold her house is.

Another good one is seeing a child getting the bus on their own. Just this morning an adorable tiny boy in an immaculate school uniform was striding along to the bus stop, ON HIS OWN, waiting at the timetable board, hands in pockets, reading the notice pinned up as if he always makes these journeys alone and therefore must keep up with any alterations to the service. He was like a mini-adult but just so too small to be allowed out in the CITY CENTRE to make his journey to school alone. Plus he was running late (I assumed, as it was already twenty to nine) and had no mummy or daddy to rush him through the school gates in a cloud of kisses and excuses. Such a tiny thing making his way in the world - ringing the bell on the bus and leaping off and running towards school just before 9am - with such independence made me smile with a kind of pride but also made my eyes fill up with tears at this loss of innocence and childhood.

The worst is a guy who I see regularly on the bus who is in a wheelchair. I'm sure I'm not the only one who likes to make more of an effort to help people out who can't easily get on the bus and find a seat - its not patronising, I just can't not be helpful. Its like a disease (and its hereditary 'cos I definitely got it from my Dad). However, I can't help but openly watch this guy when we happen to get the bus together. He is probably absolutely fine and doesn't need help or friendship from random crying girls on the bus. Yet, I always have to smile and marvel at how he just gets on with it. It makes me burst with an unidentified feeling, one that makes me slightly uncomfortable because a) I start welling up (although its clear that that's to be expected where I'm concerned) and b) I don't want him to think I look at him in pity. The reason I know this isn't the case is that I'm looking at him in admiration.

Perhaps that is what is behind all of this. My crying is a reaction to feeling lucky that I am okay and then feeling in awe of people who, to the outside world for all intents and purposes would be classed as not really okay, but carry on as normal. Its naive, weak and pointless of me to express this in a repressed show of emotion. This is just what you get for being a cry baby (and for spending two over-tired hours a day on the bus). At least putting myself in other people's shoes and experiencing compassion is better than crying at EastEnders. And toothpaste ads. But that's a whole other blog post.


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