If you are like me, you may be feeling increasingly detached from real, in-person contact with other people. I keep up with my friends on social media, communicate with my professors largely through email, attend some of my classes online, and (when I’m not on the bus) drive in my car alone. Yes, I see my classmates and coworkers daily, but new conversations with new people seem few and far between. In public places, where it used to be common for random people to strike up conversations, most people are now silently absorbed in their phones or earbuds, hesitant to chat.
For some reason, on the Smart Way (or many commuter buses for that matter), it’s different. There’s a sense of community. Regardless of where we came from, we’re all sitting together, headed in the same direction. Whenever I ride the Smart Way, the chatter is calm, quiet, and friendly. No one has been imposing or abrasive with their conversations, which, as an introvert, I greatly appreciate. Virginia Tech researchers chat with blue-collar laborers. Riders are young, old, high-income, low-income, various ethnicities, local, and international.
On my most recent ride, I met a lovely psychology major from New York City who was riding the bus to the airport. A man from India beamed as he told an elderly couple stories of his hometown. A woman in a suit warmly smiled at a young couple wearing tattered jeans and holding a baby. The bus driver asked the guy in the front seat how his mother was doing. People from all walks of life, using their commute time to interact with and learn about others. How refreshing!
The bus doesn’t only provide warm fuzzy feelings of community, though. For those of you who are seeking networking opportunities, the bus also provides an excellent setting for that. Mark McCaskill recently wrote a great article about networking through public transit, so I’ll link that here for you to check out! It actually works, by the way. I have a good friend who was offered her dream job last year by a woman she met on the bus. Just think- such a remarkable opportunity would have happened if she had driven that day. You never know.
There are quite a few benefits of riding the Smart Way.
Here’s a summary of the Reasons to Ride discussed so far:
Stay tuned for the next blog that features a huge “Reason to Ride”: environmental benefits.
Have a reason to ride that hasn’t been blogged about yet? Let us know in the comments!
See you on the bus,