Posts Tagged ‘transit’

The Public Voice: Speak up and smile!

February 3rd, 2011 No comments

“How is Everyone feeling this afternoon?” he says as he steps inside.  A few mumbles, “Good. Okay,” bubble up from the mid and back sections.

“Why does Everyone look so serious?!” he teases with his second attempt to get some lively reactions.  “Especially the lady by the door.”  With more patience than I could have mustered she replies, “I just spent 10 hours on a plane.”  If that were me being put on the spot for the sake of this comic act, I might have just sneered.

“Oh,” he says,  “Air Canada?” as if the airline makes a difference!  Ten hours on a plane is 10 hours of dehydrated waiting, locked in with a few hundred anxious, grumpy, smelly people while confined to seats that are either too large or too small and food that isn’t real food; no matter if the logo is blue or maroon, if the servers in the sky smile or have a face of truth, the only way to end up with a smile after a 10hr. flight is to watch a great movie or listen to awesome music just before landing!  Anyhoo…back to this woman who offers an explanation when she shouldn’t have to…

“No, Thomas Cook,” she says.  I have never heard of this airline.  And even though he gave an, “Oh!” in response, I’m pretty sure that he hadn’t heard of it either.”  He bluffed an, “Even worse, eh?”  And she softly mumbled something about cattle.

By now it was clear that for $3.75, for most, and $0.0 for those he excused, this group of unsuspecting strangers that I was sitting in the middle of, was in for a show, whether we liked it or not.

“Hello Everyone, this is Kamikaze airlines and I’m Captain Chaos,” suddenly blares through the speaker system.  “Hold on tight because I can guarantee we will be experiencing some turbulence.” As he went on with the spoofed airline welcome speech, I couldn’t tell if I was more annoyed that he had disrupted my quiet transit time or if I was impressed at his willingness to be in our faces with his efforts to get people out of their rutty transit trances.  You know the trance.  Look around on a train, bus, even elevators and you’ll likely find people looking down, spacing out into the horizon or staring at other passengers.  Rarely a smile, unless it is to politely respond to the gaze of a stranger.  So I understood and appreciated what this young man was trying to do, shaking things up and hoping people would lighten up.  What choice did we have, really?  He was after all driving the bus!

“Lady by the door, do me a favour?  Smile for me honey.”

Smiling she replied, “I’m already feeling better, thanks.”

I’ve seen it happen a few times like this, when a bus driver uses his voice and wit to ignite light in the people who have entrusted their lives to each other for a few moments while getting from point A to point B.   Even if I did find it off putting at first to have my attention demanded, our city would benefit a great deal if our bus drivers were also happy storytellers.

This ride happened in North Vancouver going up the hill on Lonsdale from the Quay, and much needed on the east to west routes in Vancouver!  While he did get people to smile, I would say he was more of a comic.  One who started resorting to put-downs of other Canadian hockey teams that are not Canucks.  That’s why I would prefer happy storytellers than comics who need to put others down in order to feel successful.  I know that kind of humour-making is funny to many but it just feels sad to me, and more for the joke-maker who thinks he makes a joke of others.

So there is another reason to have theatre and drama part of the public school curriculum.  It’s not just for actors or “youth-at-risk!  Our civic structures need life-engaging fun too!