Saturday, March 1, 2008

Trying To Be A Good Person, Or How To Kill Time On The Bus

With the Charete over, I quickly walked two blocks south to catch Hampton Roads Transit's (HRT) Route 24 (Laskin Road Express) into Norfolk. It's an express bus that runs (2x off-season, 3x in-season) between Virginia Beach's Oceanfront and downtown Norfolk. The clientele is largely hotel housekeepers, leading some to call it the "Sheetshaker Express". (I once used that name in a RAC Transportation Committee meeting, to which a HRT Staffer replied "We won't advertise it as that.") I got to MacArthur Center in time to grab a quick fish and chips dinner on the Lenten Friday before watching the 5 P.M. showing of Vantage Point. (A must-see for action/suspense movie fans.)

Getting home meant about an hour ride on Route 20. Boarding the bus, sitting in front of me was an electrician. He wanted to talk. With little else to do and the trip ahead of me, I figured I would indulge him and listen. He spent the entire segment to Military Circle going on about a 104 year old house he was on the renovation crew for. He hit me with electrical details, some of which went over my head. (What's a 12-2 and a 12-4 and the difference?) East of Military Circle, he started with basic electrical, then basic plumbing, before more basic electrical. I reached my home stop with him still heading onward.

Morals of the story. One, in this self-absorbed world, try to think of someone other than yourself. He was boring me, but he obviously had things he wanted to get off his chest. Two, as I've posted on before, there's a subculture among bus riders. Here was somebody who needed someone, and I tried to do what I could.

2 comments:

J. Tyler Ballance said...

Congratulations on using our lousy mass transit "system." You were lucky to get home on the same day.

As for your electrician traveling companion, had you really engaged in the conversation, instead of smugly sitting there, doing him the favor of feigning interest, you could have learned a little about his trade and about how our current political situation has kicked men like him in the teeth, over and over again.

By the way, 12-2 refers to a twelve gauge cable with two conductors. This stuff is used for low ampere (usually 16 amp max capacity) applications like landscape lighting or speaker wires.

When some tradesman talks to you about his craft, he is giving you a great gift; an opportunity to learn from his experience and for you to grasp a greater understanding of what life is like for those who make their daily bread by the sweat of their brow.

We can learn from anyone we meet, if we only take the time to listen. Tradesmen can acquire a tremendous body of knowledge throughout their careers and those of us confined to the ranks of management or other desk bound professions ignore this rich source of wisdom at our peril.

Avenging Archangel said...

I come from a family with a plethora of carpenters, so I certainly wouldn't be dismissive of tradesmen.

Matter of fact, my older half-brother works in construction.