Monday, June 13, 2005

Mike’s Musings: I'm Charles Darwin, bitch. (A brief yet helpful study in Bus Survivalism)

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Mass transit has always seemed very strange to me. Basically you're crammed into a very small space with a completely random array of strangers with absolutely nothing in common except for the fact that you're going somewhere. I think this is why people always act distracted on buses; being surrounded by strangers makes them a tad uncomfortable. Also, even if you are feeling friendly, there's not much reason to be chatting up your neighbour since either you or he/she will be getting off the bus in a relatively short amount of time. And since there's no one to talk to, I have to rely on my imagination for bus entertainment. Nine times out of ten I think about the exact same thing: if something terrible were to happen and the bus was somehow stranded from the rest of the world - all of its passengers thrust into a survival type situation - what kind of mini-society would this particular busload yield?

I know this is the premise of literally millions of terrible movies, books, television programs, etc. and maybe that's why I always think about it. From the moment I get on I'm scanning the crowd, trying to decide who my allies would be. Who would panic? Who would try to take control and lead the group to safety? That pouty brunette two seats ahead with the glasses and the Argyle sweater (let's call her Cecile), she looks pretty smart. I bet she knows first-aid, and probably how build a rabbit snare. It's good to get a feel for your busmates early on, just in case. But you wouldn't really know how anyone would behave in an emergency situation until it actually happened. And I'm confident that in the end, I would be the one to bring whoever's left alive, at the end of our ordeal, to safety.

I wouldn't stand up and try to take the lead at first. That would be stupid because you don't know what kind of people you're dealing with right away. That loud middle-aged fucker with the two cellphones, let him stick his neck out. I'm sure he'd be at least halfway competent.

"C'mon everyone, don't panic. Follow me into this snow cave, it the only shelter we've got."

And that would be fine for the time being. I'd just follow along, giving the other passengers the impression that I'm compassionate, helpful and suprisingly level-headed. Don't want to rock the boat too early.

My goal over the first few days in the snow cave would be to gain the trust of the passengers that I feel would be the most helpful in planning my rise to becoming the New Leader. Stay upbeat and positive and they'll gravitate towards you. they'll notice your innate leadership skills and also your skills with a Bo staff.

"Hey Cecile, who's your favorite stranded passenger?"

"I'm not sure Josephine, I really like Mike. He's so helpful and positive all the time; he just fills me with so much hope. And he's so deliciously scruffy."

Now is the time to strike. Human nature dictates that someone, for whatever reason, will question the current leader's capacity to govern over us. Let this happen. Don't get in the way of ugly politics. You know who your friends are. Start quietly spreading the seeds of dissent amongst them.

"I'm just not sure I'm comfortable with Hector being the leader. He's been so erratic and angry lately. I don't know if we can trust him."

Stay in close contact with those who agree with you. A few clandestine meetings wouldn't hurt.

"I’m thinking of leaving the group. Hector's gone mad. There's not enough food in this snow cave for all of us. We have to make a break for it. Walter, you're strong and good at carrying stuff, will you join us? and Cecile, we can't make it without you. You're the only one who knows how to make crude medicines. We need you with us Cecile."

Then, under the cover of night, I'd lead my little group out of the cave and back to civilization, leaving Hector and his minions to quarrel and starve in their icy tomb. My week-and-a-half of scheming and manipulation will have worked perfectly and these people will see me as a Hero. A Savior. A Mighty Lover. And our story would be told a million times all over the world, a transmission of unrelenting hope.

Sometimes on the bus I just listen to my discman.

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