In another place, some brief thoughts about riding the bus today. No claims to being anything but about riding the bus this evening, but what riding a bike means touched on some of the things I was trying to say:
And we’ve been talking through Goffman in class today, how Goffman sees the marking of the territories of the self. I don’t remember exactly how he phrases it, but he says something to this effect: That in all of our marking of territories, we’re trying to do both demonstrate our respect for others and establish a kind of regard in others for ourselves. And it’s not as though this is ever a simple process, but I think it’s easier to do in some places than others. What makes the bus such a heartbreaking place is how often you find the incommensurable moments between the territories of others and ourselves. More often than not, it’s something between the bus driver and passengers, some way in which the driver closes out passengers, refuses to open the bus’ doors, makes people feel acutely the sense of not being quite in control. And because I think there’s something to that, some way in which the bus requires us (as passengers, though my escape is always the bike, the recognition or declaration that I could always ride my bike if the press of people got too bad) to accept the fact that we’re on someone else’s time and in someone else’s place.
I don’t think you have to deal with that in the same way when you drive a car (Joan Didion’s quip that what makes Los Angeles unique is that it’s the only city you could drive to buy a hamburger at 3 a.m.). There’s something to the way in which cars become our territories of the self, and the way in which riding the bus forces people to confront the limits of their selves. And that maybe was what made this sight so heartbreaking: This man, when he got off the bus, would rather have walked calmly (be cool on the street, nobody wants to be the person running with your hands full, nobody wants to be seen as that guy) to catch his local transfer, but he would have missed his bus. And so something slipped, he broke into a shuffling run, hands clutching plastic bags of groceries, trying to make his way home.
And back to schoolwork. Thanks to those who commented on the Crank Mob thoughts – I’ve had some more stumbling thoughts kicking around but have yet to find the time to put things together. But best wishes to everyone.