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A rich non-relationship

On March 1, I turned in my paid parking pass in the IDS Center ramp and exchanged it for a bus pass. It seemed like the right thing to do on a few levels; it saves my employer a little extra money each month and we are watching expenses like everyone else, I live close to three bus routes that can take me downtown, including one that is a limited stop route so I really don’t have a decent excuse, and it’s more incentive to ride my bike. Plus, it was apparent that most of my car trips were only to the office and back.

The bus experience has been good. It requires a little more planning around departure times, but I am enjoying being able to read, or just zone out, on the bus. You can’t do that driving (or at least you are not supposed to). I also like that it controls how late I work. I tend to get into something at the office and will stay later than I would like. Finally, I admit to feeling a little righteous about it as well.

I also find Minneapolis bus society to be interesting. I already have a “Bus Friend” that sits with me in the morning. I get on at one of the very first stops on the limited stop route, so I can grab a seat no problem.

Once all of the entirely empty seats are taken, the dynamic changes; people getting on the bus have only about 3 seconds or so size up everyone on the bus and decide who they are going to sit with. My Bus Friend gets on at this point in the route. Generally, she will glance around the bus and nonchalantly come over and sit with me, probably because I look like I bathe and probably won’t be too creepy.

I like my Bus Friend although I have no idea who she is, where she is going, what her name is or what she does. It’s a surprising rich non-relationship. Here are the general rules as I have come to understand them for building and maintaining a healthy Bus Friendship:

Don’t really acknowledge them – this is a secret friendship. You can nod at them, but much more than that starts to get a little creepy.

Try not to look at what they are reading, that starts to get a little creepy, too.

Act like you could care less if they sit with you or not. Being eager to sit with you Bus Friend is a little creepy.

Watch out for your bus friend; if their mittens fall on the disgusting floor let them know; don’t help them too much or it’s a little too creepy, though.

Do not breathe through you mouth when sitting with your Bus Friend.

Always sit in the same location if you want to keep your Bus Friend; moving from your usual spot says to your Bus Friend “Fuck you – I moved so you won’t be able to find me!”. Nobody needs that kind of rejection at 7:00 AM.

If your Bus Friend does not show up one day, but is there the next day, it is permissible to raise your eye brows in acknowledgement when you see each other. Anything more gets a little creepy.

Essentially, I have concluded that to be good Bus Friends, you both need to make a (silent and mysterious) commitment to each to be friendly within a narrow spectrum, and avoid being weird or creepy. Bus Friends provide a valuable service to each other – it’s a little familiarity and also some insurance that weird or creepy people won’t come over and sit with you.

I find maintaining these carefully orchestrated non-relationship to be one of the more interesting aspects of my bus ride. Although, I have to admit that the fact that I have thought so much about Bus Friends is, in itself, probably a little creepy.

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