Smile! (you might even enjoy it) (24 March 2012)

Here's another bus story - which must say something about the life of a London-based coach - that came into my head when I saw a cartoon titled "How to Enjoy Life" in the Guardian last week. Briefly, the cartoon recommends smiling and being jolly, giving up your seat on the tube train, sharing your food, holding open doors, generally being nice to strangers - and being "open to conversations on the bus". The idea is that good feelings will come to those who act in this way (yes, I know it isn't very common in London, or anywhere in the UK - but, hey, give it a try...)

Anyway, I was standing on one of the now defunct "bendy" buses, with a journey of 20 minutes before me down to Central London. I was lost in my own thoughts, when I became aware that the 40ish women next to me was muttering conspiratorially in my direction: "38 goes right down to Victoria, comes from Clapton, one of longest routes, but 122 beats it, just" And she went on in the same vein, displaying an astonishing knowledge of London bus routes. My immediate thought....... don't get involved, don't make eye contact, stare hard at the newspaper. But she kept on talking. To me.

And, you know, I folded up the newspaper, I looked at her, and I joined in, asking questions about the buses when she seemed to need a prompt (she did have an amazing knowledge). And, 20 minutes later but it seemed much quicker, I got down at my stop with a big smile on my face; hopefully, she was a little less lonely and isolated, even if only temporarily, and it cost me nothing to join her in human conversation and companionship. I'm sure she forgot me almost at once; but I learned much from her.

Give it a try!

all the best


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