Friday, August 12, 2011

The Men on the Bus

Its a typical day of work, and I'm commuting home at rush hour. I'm getting on a mostly full circulator bus in Georgetown. As I step onto the bus, I spy a seat. A young 22-28 year old preppy man in business casual is sitting next to the window, comfortably slouching back in his seat, legs apart, earbuds in his head, and the seat next to him is open.

Now in this man's mind, he has played his cards right. He has sufficiently spread out enough on the bench that it is the last forward facing seat left. People can read his body language, they know that he is really saying "don't sit here, this is my space".

I'm not intimidated by these people. I see it all the time. Women play this game as well, putting their bags on the seat next to them. I even have my own game plan. I make eye contact with the people getting on the bus, and usually that makes them feel just weird enough to choose to keep walking past me and find a different seat.

But there comes the time in every regular bus-rider's journey when the bus begins to fill up and you realize the seat next to you is the last seat left. You must be polite and make room. Women pick up their bags and put them in their laps. People scoot over, to make sure they are not taking up too much space. I smile at the person coming toward me saying "Yes, please sit here".

So in this particular story, I go to sit beside the sprawled out young man. Only, he doesn't move one inch. I literally have to carefully slide in and hang off the edge to sit there. I don't understand it, this is just bad bus ettiquite.

And this story repeats itself over and over in varying ways. I don't understand why self-important young men seem to be the ONLY people who don't follow the rules of bus manners. Many times, it even happens the other way around. I will be the one sitting first, and some man will come sit next to me and force me to scoot to the edge of my seat because spreads out on top of me the second he sits down.

What's worse is, I know they only do this because I'm a woman. If a guy sat down next to them, they would immediately scoot over. Its like they think I don't deserve a whole seat. It drives me nuts.

So for those men out there, those ultimate offenders, I though I'd write out the unsaid rules of the bus, in case you really are just that stupid:

1) The seats in the front are for the elderly and disabled - this means you shouldn't sit here unless they are the only seats left. If you are sitting there and an elderly person gets on the bus, you should get up automatically. Don't assume because the sweet old lady isn't asking for your seat that she doesn't want to sit down.
2) Unspoken rule for pregnant women - NEVER make them stand, come on people!
3)Move to the back of the bus- when it is rush hour and you are standing on the bus, just move all the way back. Young men are notoriously bad at this as well. They stake out their ground by the back door and look all pissed off when you ask them to move.
4) If you have to talk on your cell phone, do so quietly
5) Sit on the inside seats close to the window first
6) Put your bag in your lap.
7) You only get 1 seat per person, get over it!


Monday, August 8, 2011

We are grown-ups?

The past week has been a whirlwind of fun and excitement. Beginning on Wednesday and lasting through Sunday, Z and I got to spend the week with a whole host of great college friends who were in town for wedding activities.

One of the things that I noticed this weekend is that sometime over the past 3 years, we have all become grown-ups. I'm not exactly sure when this transition happened, but I do vividly remember how different life was for all of us just 2 short years ago, during the first year after graduation.

No one really prepares college students for life after school. For most of us in our short lives, the first 1-2 years out of school have gone on record as the most difficult of our lives. Suddenly being dropped in the "real world" without rules, timelines, goals, and direction can feel like falling into an infinite abyss. Managing the expectations of where our teenage selves thought we would be at 22-23 and reality was extremely difficult. Navigating the very beginning of our working lives during the greatest financial crisis since the great depression felt like paddling against the current, when the best we could hope for was not to drown.

We worked jobs we didn't like. We worked at restaurants, and as administrative assistants, and as interns. We felt under-employed and under-appreciated. We missed our community and friendships as we spread out accross the country in pursuit of work. We spent countless hours on the phone, recounting the past, the good times of being in school. We were not sure if we would ever realize our dreams or find contentment in our careers.

But somewhere in the past year or so, we've found our way. We've found jobs that could turn into careers, started graduate school, gotten married, discovered community. I'm not saying things are perfect, but we are all on a path that no longer feels like a dead-end. We are hopeful again and ready to take on the future together, and that is a wonderful thing.

I'm thankful for the time I got to spend with all of you, and I have nothing but excitment for where your lives are going and for the next time we are together again.

Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Burnett. May your lives be filled with happiness together!