Friday, 22 March 2013

Tram Conversations

When using public transportation, you see and hear lots of things. 

Some are interesting. 
A few weeks ago, we were getting on the tram when the doors shut very quickly and the tram started to move. I was just inside the door on the crowded tram car and saw a woman on the other side frantically pushing the button. As she realized the tram wasn't going to let her on, she started motioning and yelling. At first I thought, "Geez lady, calm down. Sure it's annoying to miss a tram like that, but another one will be along in a few minutes." Then I realized that she wasn't yelling, she was trying to communicate instructions to people on the tram. I also realized that the people were three young men (late teens/early 20s). We couldn't really make out the instructions before the tram pulled away. As we rode along, it became clear that the young men were mentally handicapped. They lamented the situation between themselves and said over and over that it was "the doors' fault". The looked at me for reassurance in this matter. I heartily agreed that there was nothing they could have done. As the ride went on, the boys continued to confirm amongst themselves that it was the doors' fault. I noticed that one was wearing a Bury College lanyard and we asked if they were going to Bury (the last stop on the line). They confirmed that they were and so we talked about how they could just stay on until the end and then get off and wait for their teacher to join them, as she would surely be on the next tram. Not long before our stop (2 stops before the Bury stop), I confirmed that the young men knew what to do. (We would have accompanied them, but it was already pushing it for Linus' dinner time and there were plenty of others on the tram who could assist.) One of them looked at me and earnestly said "It's scary being all alone." I told him that he wasn't alone. He had his friends and the other people on the tram. And then ran through what to do once they got to the Bury stop one more time. I then high-fived them for reassurance. They were such sweet guys. I still sort of wish we could have accompanied them, just to make sure.

Some are funny.
The other day, I was holding Linus as Ross and I stood on a crowded tram car. In order to fit on the tram, we'd filled in spaces, meaning that we weren't right next to each other. A nearby man in a business suit was smiling at Linus and making faces to entertain him. Linus' gaze shifted to Ross. I noticed his smile and said "Is that your daddy?" Ross noticed the panic on the suited man's face. I was oblivious to the fact that the man thought I was referring to him!

Some are sad.
Today we rode the tram and were wedged next to 3 teenagers. Two boys and a girl. One boy and the girl were a couple and the other boy was a newish friend of theirs. They were all filled with the public cockiness that teens so often put on to mask their insecurity. They talked loudly, putting on a show for the other tram-riders. They clearly imagined themselves the stars of some very compelling reality show. (Clearly they weren't wrong, as I'm now relaying the story to you.) They spoke about the petty dramas that fill most teenage lives. They used vulgar language with daring and a pinch too much forced casualness. The boyfriend got on his cell phone and called someone and asked if it was ok for his girlfriend to come to his house for tea (tea means dinner 'round these parts). As he hung up the phone, he was all in a huff and chastised his girlfriend that she'd "almost made him say 'I love you' to his dad". The three shared a good old laugh. The boy continued in his exclamations regarding expressing this emotion. He acted like it would have been the most ridiculous thing ever. His girlfriend joined in his laughter saying "that would have been... awkward". The way she said it left no doubt, that she would have found it the height of lameness. They all mocked the possibility of this imagined faux pas together. They continued to discuss exchange of emotion between father and son in a dismissive manner and threw around the word "gay". 

I wanted to turn around and tell this boy that:
a) "Gay" is not an insult. It isn't a word to be used to describe a situation that makes you uncomfortable. It is not "gay" to express emotion. Unless he meant that sometimes being gay takes real courage, as does expressing emotion.
b) I bet his father loves him. A lot. 
c) I hope that he loves his father. And I hope someday soon he figures out a way to till him as much.

I didn't. I just continued listening to this conversation- my back to them as I faced my husband. My adorable husband who was holding our son. My two favorite boys who were gazing at each other with such love. I watched as they played and made silly faces and as Ross covered Linus' face with kisses. It broke my heart to think that some day Linus might have a similar conversation. Then I thought about it and decided that was a silly worry. Of course our boy would grow up in a loving home where his parents were open with their emotions and vocal about their love. He would come of age knowing that it IS cool love your family. He might get embarrassed by us. He might get mad at us. But he will always know that Mommy and Daddy love each other. And that we both love him. We say it constantly. Because it's important to me. Important that he not just know it, but that he hear it. Important that he learn to say it. Important that we teach our boy to be a man who can express himself emotionally. So then I just felt sad. Sad that this boy didn't feel that way. Sad that he and his father don't get to experience the joy of open admiration for each other. And happy. Happy that my husband has no problem expressing love. That he is the kind of father who will kiss his son and hold his hand and teach him how to be a loving, kind, and brave person. Happy that Linus will have such a wonderful role model to show him how a real man acts.

Are you vocal with your love? 
Anyone else have any good public transportation stories?


  1. You are so sweet to help them out, I don't know if many people would have!

  2. I get the tram all the time! It's nice to know I'm riding with a lovely lady and her two strapping men x