having arrived at the bus station I encounter people with whom I immediately have something in common. We are waiting for a bus! Yes this is the point of commonality on which all subsequent conversations and bus relationships are initially based.
Six years ago there was one bus for the full length of my trip (it is now two, which will become evident later) and there were two gentlemen using the same route and starting point although with differing destinations. Names are something not exchanged in the initial stages of commuting interactions. It appears to be human nature that we must have names or labels for things, if we don't know the right one then we make one up. Soon with that understanding, my passage to work first becomes populated with The Tiling Fisher ,and the Shop Manager. The Blind Man joined us at the next stop, and no he wasn't, like the old joke, that was his job. They had been using this route for years and they were familiar to the drivers, even to the extent they would wait a few moments for them if not there at departure time.
Indeed it was the drivers asking after them by name which initially allowed the labels to be replaced, as least partially, I am not too good with recalling names but the juxtaposition of the first these two names helped, being as they were, reminiscent of a childhood rhyme. So the Fly Aways became a morning constant with regular updates on deep sea fishing trips and which relative or friend of, was having what tiling done now. How the shop was going, trips away ,anticipated holidays and Church events filled the time till the bus arrived.
Quickly I became almost as aware of their schedule as my own, Knowing the days they had off, when they would be away. There is a strange kind of community that builds up on the bus, I presume it is the same for those travelling by train. Being on first name terms is generally seen as more intimate than surnames, but for the commuter first name are more the norm and surnames are the privacy setting. Indeed there is little else that seems to be excluded from the revelations that will be shared between "bus friends". We can know so much about each other, what is happening with family, friends work, the dreams, desires and angst's of each others lives yet we meet just for those brief if regular time waiting for or on the bus or whilst we journey.
I am not saying that all bus conversations are counselling sessions or confessionals, the greater part are about the common topic of the BUS, when was it late, early a lucky catch or a frustrating miss, happy or morose drivers and that most British topic of all, the weather. But enough are more so that labels become friends, bus friends. Most will remain just that and one day they will fly away and not come back, retire, change job change bus, get a car and drive to work and they will not finish the rhyme and come back.