Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Mass Transit Guide to Making New Friends

“According to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) April Transit Savings Report, individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save, on average, $844 this month, and $10,126 annually.”
- From a press release from the American Public Transportation Association.

With gas prices on the rise yet again, commuters  who in the past have avoided public transportation may now be having a change of heart. If you fall into this category, you are to be congratulated. Public transportation offers a convenient, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly alternative to driving, and the intimacy of public transportation provides an excellent opportunity to connect with your fellow commuters on a level that is impossible when you are behind the wheel of a car.

But connecting with other passengers on a bus or train car isn't always easy. Many are seasoned commuters, practiced in the art of ignoring each other. You must recognize the challenge presented by a large public conveyance full of surly, coffee-stoked wage slaves, each one desperately hoping that you won't sit by them, talk to them, or in any way intrude on their quietly desperate lives. But as a good citizen and new public transportation commuter, you should make it your mission to shatter the cocoon of everyday anxiety and paranoia that surrounds your fellow human beings by proving to each of them just how far you'll go to cultivate a close personal relationship.

The first thing you want to do is get their attention. One way to accomplish this is through music. And what musical instrument is more appropriate for morning than the bugle? There's nothing more exhilarating to a busload of bleary-eyed income-earners than a rousing reveille. A few might be so energized by your performance that they'll ask the driver to let them out early, just so they can walk the last sixty-five blocks to work! The next step is to entertain the remaining passengers with your acting abilities. Imagine how quickly the people around you will forget all about their troubles when you recreate a scene from the classic film, "Taxi Driver." When they hear the lines, "You talkin' to me? You must be talkin' to me," they'll be transfixed. You're winning them over! But there is still work to do.

Next, you'll want to impress them with your athletic prowess. Few things in life are more awe-inspiring than watching a master martial artist break a big block of ice with his face. I know, you're thinking that you're not a martial artist, and if you try to get a two-hundred pound block of ice on the bus, the driver will charge you an extra fare. Don't be silly! Just bring a tray of ice cubes. If you follow up your bugle playing and acting debut by making a big batch of crushed ice with your forehead, it won't be long before you're on the "A" list for all the right parties!

But maybe you're not flamboyant enough to pull off those kinds of pal-attracting stunts. No problem! Go for a more subtle approach. You may want to try just making eye contact with a particular passenger. Don't make a big deal out of it. Just pick somebody out and stare at them. Don't even blink. Let your eyes send the message that you are the kind of person who really wants to connect with people. It usually only takes about forty-five minutes before you find that you've made that person feel something really special.

The main thing in making friends on public transportation is to just have fun. Remember to laugh. Laugh quietly to yourself, or laugh right out loud, but laugh. All the time. No matter what anyone says to you, no matter if they ask for identification, or put handcuffs on you or try to inject you with some kind of tranquilizer. Just laugh. People will remember you. Isn't that what friendship is all about?



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