It is so easy to become caught up in our own world, blocking out external social influences. I ride public transportation to work everyday. I live in the greater Los Angeles area, so what the heck?! I know. In the land of 2.5 cars for every person, I leave mine parked. Before I start sounding ‘greener’ than I am (I appreciate that I have a smaller carbon footprint than I did 5 years ago), I take the subway because it is convenient and economically advantageous. However, it has afforded me some wonderful benefits. I have edited 3 of my books and written 2 while riding the train. I completed 50% or more of my graduate coursework while riding the train. I am writing to you right now while riding the train. I have fallen asleep….
…while riding the train. One of the best benefits (not the workout my immune system gets fighting all of the germs and viruses) is I get to people watch. The human is an interesting creature. What we do. How we do it and why are all so fascinating. One day I will devote a post or two specifically to my transportation adventures. Not today. Today’s subject is people watching. And not just watching, but interacting. Riding public transportation forces me to walk the streets of downtown Los Angeles and at times I cannot help but interact with my environment. (Sometimes against my will – lol) This morning, I had a great and brief conversation with another commuter who cycles to the train station. I had to admit that I drive. (He lives 2 miles away from his station; I live only 1 mile from mine!) Cycling has been a part of his commute to work for 9 years and he loves it. I want to get to that point. I told him I will attempt to ride to the station this Friday. We all will see. In my defense, the ride is not far at all. I ride much farther on weekends. The problem is I live at the top of a steep hill. (did I mention it is at the top of a steep hill?) After working 8+ hours during the day and riding trains for 45 minutes, the last thing I want to do is get on my bike and struggle up a hill. Anyway, I digress. Later today, while WALKING during lunch J, I encountered a homeless man. This is not unusual at all. I see them everyday, but this gentleman stood out to me. I decided to put a buck in his cup. I asked his name (Gerard), shook his hand (for you germophobes, I washed it later), and introduced myself. He was honest in his approach. He shared he had messed up his life (I assume, drug related) and was trying to get it back on track. He said he was collecting money to buy some used clothes so he could go back to work. I sized up him and figured I have plenty of clothes I could donate to him. We chatted a little more than I invited him to meet me in the same spot in a couple of days and I would have some items for him. Hopefully, they will bless him. If so, I can only attribute my being in tune to him is because I commute on public transportation. In a small way, it keeps me in touch with humanity and less isolated in a world where privacy is a religion and personal space is a god.
Please do not take that last statement as a judgment of any kind. Hopefully, it will be an encouragement to get out and talk to someone new.