Eco-Living Magazine

Dispatches from the Bus: Intellectual Discourse and the 94 Route Philosopher

Posted on the 26 December 2012 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

This is the first post in what will become an ongoing series about riding the bus to and from work each day through Minneapolis and St. Paul.

I believe his name was James. He shall forever be known as the 94 Bus Philosopher though. Since I began commuting to work via the bus a week and a half ago, I’ve read roughly 500 pages in parts of 3 books (completing David Sedaris’s Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, nearly finishing Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and reading a bit of The Spirit Level). This exercise in literacy has been great in many ways. When I’m frustrated or distracted, reading provides an outlet that I would not get while driving.

The other night, on the way home from downtown St. Paul, close to work, I sat in the back of the 94B Express. I began reading, but after a few pages I realized that there was something much more valuable to experience. One of the benefits of mass transit is the opportunity to converse with other people as opposed to sitting in the car (either by myself or with one other person). Enter the Bus Philosopher. He was initially engaged in a conversation with one other person. I caught snippets of the largely one sided conversation. Shortly a third person joined, mostly listening. Then I decided to put my book down and listen.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was amazed at the depth and breadth of the Bus Philosopher’s acumen, grasp of topics, and reflection/introspection. He began from what I could tell by talking to the second gentleman about the challenges of recidivism and employment. From there the conversation swung to democracy and capitalism and then to history. I left the bus having shared only a few tidbits, but mostly listening. My main thought was, “this is what I expected college to be like”, namely sitting around and having deep, wide ranging conversations.

Sitting on the bus, building camaraderie, and engaging in community building was exactly what mass transit can be.

Thanks James/Bus Philosopher.

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