Photo by Telstar Logistics
A few paragraphs into the heartbreaking story of 28-year-old Alicia Parlette, who’s been suffering a rare and aggressive form of cancer and recently decided to end treatment, I was struck by her sentiment about public transportation. Parlette, who met her boyfriend on BART, said:
“I always wanted to meet someone on public transportation. All these people are riding to and from work, and they’re all looking at their iPods. Why can’t they be looking at each other?”
Exactly. I’m not sure that iPods are entirely to blame, but we do seem to have more gadgets to keep us from making conversation with one another. But the best stories on Muni Diaries — at least my favorite ones — happen when people break out of their shells and talk to fellow passengers. We even have a few friends who met their spouses on public transit: Lisa and Nick, who met on BART and are now expecting their first child; Eric, who met his wife on the 22-Fillmore (See? Miracles do happen); and then there’s a never-ending stock of potential hook-ups in Muni Missed Connections.
And while people might say that iPods and smart phones are getting in the way of making connections, these gadgets can be a conversation starter, too. A few months ago, we set out on the bus one day to ask people what they were listening to and made a Muni playlist. Creating a snippet of the day’s soundtrack on Muni was so much fun because passengers enthusiastically shared their music choices with us, and we got to report a slice of life on Muni, which is always what we’re looking for.
Sure, there’s a lot to complain about on Muni — we see it on Twitter all the time. But we know that riding the bus can be so many other things, too. Sometimes friendships and relationships emerge from these chance encounters; other times, you just get to know someone you share this city with for a few minutes, then you’re both off to whatever adventure lies next. So, the next time you see people break out of their self-imposed cocoons of isolation on Muni and actively engaging with fellow passengers, let us know. Tell us your stories.