February 25th, 2004

krazy koati

In another place, another town

``You are very welcome, sir.''

That was said to me by a quite cheerful bus driver, answering my thanking him when he opened the door. It's a compulsion of mine; I thank bus drivers, the cashiers at stores, the people taking my tickets at the cinema or checking my card at the Zoo. But I like thanking people for doing things that make my life easier, even if the driver would have to stop were I not there, and the cashier would have to give me my change even if I didn't thank him for it. It just feels imbalanced if I don't say it. I think I may be secretly Midwestern.

But being welcomed, or thanked back, jolts me every time. I've got an easy face to remember, and always have. Somehow I've never internalized that I don't manage to be part of the anonymous crowd, and I'm left feeling awkward about -- something -- when the person at the food stall knows what I probably want, or the driver of the bus I usually take taps the window to be sure I mean to miss it this time, and the librarian notes I've only got three books this time around.

I should be glad that I leave a genial, friendly impression on nearly everyone I meet, and that people feel I look friendly and sociable enough to strike up a conversation anytime, and I really am, but it leaves me feeling naked in some way. What is it like to be able to lurk in real life?

The most ridiculous thing -- against stiff competition -- in my thanking the bus driver and being welcomed for it is that I'm pretty sure the regular bus drivers are taking more care to stop the bus, when possible, so that I'm right up front near the door. It rubs against my egalitarian nature to get ``rewarded'' particularly for something as petty as a regular ``thank you'', but ... anyone could thank the bus driver. I've noticed the last week other people seem to be doing it more, too.

Trivia: To suppress the ``Whiskey Rebellion'' of farmers in western Pennsylvania in 1794, President Washington gathered a force of 15,000 soldiers -- almost as many as were used to catch Lord Cornwallis. Source: A Pocket History of the United States, Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commanger.

Currently Reading: Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury.