The bus this morning was crowded save for a single seat facing two other passengers, one of the seats that feels rude to sit in, as to sit there means you have to intentionally bump knees with some already-seated stranger. So I stayed standing, holding the top rail, headphones in. I can see the driver looking at me and mouthing something, and when he holds eye contact I realize he’s talking to me. I take my headphoens out and he’s saying “you gotta take a seat if there’s a seat. No standing.”
So I take “the rude man’s seat”, across from two college girls making faces to say they were already having a shit day and I just made it worse. And I am having this irritable, pre-coffee conversation in my head. I’m telling them “hey, i didn’t want to sit here either, but i’m doing my best,” and I’m imagining asking the driver “Who decides who can stand? I’d rather risk falling while standing up than ride a bus on my knees.” and imagining him getting upset at my taking a tone, and then imagining other passengers telling me to sit down already. I’m going through all these scenarios, going through clever retorts to an absurd argument, when I wondered: how many of us on the bus are having imaginary arguments in their head? How many passengers, at any one time, just experienced some miniscule social faux pas and are now playing out its magnified blow-up, throwing silent, razor sharp barbs at the other passengers based on what they just imagined someone could have said.
It gave me a real unsettled feeling, similar to when you realize that half of the people wearing headphones on the bus are listening to a true crime podcast, having the grisly details of some murder piped into their ears as they stare blankly ahead and we all are squeezed in so tight together.
But no one actually got mad at me sitting on the crowded seat, and overall it was a nice bus ride.
I joined a boardgame rental club here in Wellington, run by one guy and his pleasantly homemade website. I checked out two new games today, and when I went to his office to pick them up we had a short, pleasant conversation! It was a small dream of mine that we’d strike up a rapport, a slightly egotistical one in which he’d see that I’m not rentinng just the new stuff, or the things that show up on Shut up and Sit down. No, my rentals are eclectic, but show a fine sustained taste. At least I’m hoping. He saw that I was returning Samurai, and was checking out Blue Moon, and so we talked about Reiner Knizia games and he said that the first edition of Blue Moon was so good cos they had tarot-sized cards and that the edition I was checking out is still the same game, and still great, just smaller. I understood, and was excited to play regardless. All in all, a pleasant exchange! My big goal is to ask him what games he’s been playing lately, and develop a pleasant gaming friendhsip with the guy in Wellington who owns a library of 2,000+ games; a substantial amount of which are that mid-aught’s GOLD.
After grabbing the games I went to pick up some lunch items at Countdown and had a succession of social faux pas so extreme for me that I had to put my groceries away and leave, but they are so actually miniscule that it’s boring to right here. But it led to me going across the street for a couple of slices at Sal’s. I ordered a mushroom slice and a margherita slice. A few minutes later they brought me my food, but a cheese slice instead of mushroom. I thought for a minute that I should go up and say the order was wrong, but then felt a disgust at the idea of me doing that–to go up during a lunch rush at the junk food store and tell them one of my vegetarian pizzas was the wrong kind of vegetarian pizza. I was thankful for what I received, bit into the heese slice and realized they were both cold. They hadn’t gone into the oven at all. So now I wasn’t sure who’s pizza this was meant to be, like it was a couple of slices that had been on the counter all morning and were accidentally picked over the piping hot mushroom forgotten in the oven.
But still, the idea of complaining horrified me. Not like the social spectacle of it, but that someone else made me food, and was making 10 other people food, and it was the worst kind of food, and I could have the gall to not be happy with it. So I ate the old, cold, counter pizza with the congealed cheese that was a solid, separate mass above the crust and had my final, embarassing private moment of the day when I realized that this pizza was gooooood. I liked the taste of this cold slop and, honestly, if I was less self-conscious, I’d probably request it this way.