Today, I caught a public bus for the first time since I was in school - well over 30 years ago! But I had to drop my car off for a service early this morning, and decided to walk into the city and catch a bus back home. Purely on a whim.
I decided to look at the differences then and now, with the whole experience.
When I was younger, I don't think I EVER looked at a bus timetable. I would just turn up at a bus stop, and unless it was a Sunday (the buses in my town don't run on Sundays), I would just wait until one turned up and hop on it. I guess my concept of time was pretty elastic and I would not consider a 40 minute wait to be 'terrible' as compared to a 5 minute wait. I would simply wait.
Nowadays, I realise that my concept of 'time' is sliced into distinct categories. I looked at the bus timetable this morning and realised I would have a 20 minute wait for the next one. That seem like an interminably long time to me, and I found myself making plans in my head about how I would optimise that wait time. I could walk down the road and pop into a shop to get a drink... then perhaps sit on a bench in the park across the road and write a little in my Field Notes book until it was departure time... The plans were coming thick and fast.
I decided that No - I would simply sit and wait. And do nothing. I would steel myself against getting my iPhone out and whiling away the time. I would just sit with no distractions. (Actually, I ended up unintentionally eavesdropping on the loud conversation the lady sitting next to me was having on HER iPhone!).
While waiting and glancing at the information panels around the bus stop, I saw a notice advertising the bus services new app. You could track where all the buses were, and see in real time where the bus you were waiting for was with it. How cool. So much information at your fingertips these days. I was tempted to make a dive for my phone and download the app, but I successfully restrained myself.
Finally, my bus arrived. I got on an enquired about the fare. It was $3. Exactly 10 times the fare I paid on my last bus trip 30 years ago as a kid, which was 30 cents. I smiled inwardly at these salient coincidental facts.
Once seated, I noticed that the buses these days were far more comfortable that those of yore, and actually had working air conditioning that transformed the whole vehicle into an icebox. Very nice in our usual warm weather.
I couldn't contain myself any longer, and reached for my phone. This was where I was pleasantly surprised again to note that the buses now have free WiFi access on board. Nice. Just what the current 'always connected' generation would expect, and need.
I glanced around the bus as we travelled, and noticed that virtually all the passengers were older people, and that NONE of the other passengers seemed to be taking advantage of free WiFi or using their phones. They were actually kicking back and looking out the windows.
I decided to put away my phone and do the same.
Eventually, I reached my stop near home, and hopped off. I walked the final few hundred metres to my house enjoying the mid morning warmth of the sun, and listening to Greek workmen in a building lot swearing at each other in 3 languages, and reflected at how great life was, in my very brief step back in time to a no technologically obsessed world.