Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?
There will be all sorts of people I meet on the way to work where I need to catch two buses. If I were to categorise them, there will be two main groups: students and office workers. Actually I belong to both, office worker in the morming and student in the evening. The times I get to observe most will be on the bus and that is where most of the stories unfold.
I recalled a lady boarding the bus and talking to herself (so I thought) as she strode in towards her seat at the back of the bus. Her voice was equivalent to a teacher giving a lesson to a class of 30 students (without microphone) and my distance from her was like one at the back of the class and she was crystal clear. The bus engine was no match for her voice and I learnt through her conversation (likely she was using an earpiece with mic) that her husband had forgotten something and she had to tell him where it was in the house, then what they would be having for dinner that day, and how she was going to handle the challenges at work later. It was obvious social media lost out on the “captive audience” she had on the bus. She transmitted her message effectively to all on board and no one had the chance not to hear it unless they had their earphones on full blast to drown out her voice. Perhaps some students were spared as they usually have blaring earphones on as I could hear their music coming out from their tiny ear pieces even when they were seated one or two seats away.
I wondered whether that lady knew she had broadcasted her personal life to all on board, that some of us wished not to know such information but had no choice, that her volume was way too loud and it caused discomfort. Unfortunately, this lady was not the only one as many who choose to answer a call or make one on the bus would somehow raise their voice as if the person on the line was at the end of the hall in a crowded place. So, as a person who does not like to use earphones, I resorted to using one and listen to the radio or podcast just to avoid listening to these conversations. I conscientiously keep the volume down on my earphones so that my hearing won’t be affected in the long run, and I would like to tell those students that listening too loudly on earphones can lead to loss of hearing….. but I doubt they can hear me 😦