Thursday, September 27, 2012

Desensitized to the day-to-day

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 10:45 PM

click to enlarge ashleybusstop1small.jpg

This is part of a series of stories by Kimmel, who's given up her car and is relying primarily on public transit.

de·sen·si·tize (d-sns-tz)

tr.v. de·sen·si·tized, de·sen·si·tiz·ing, de·sen·si·tiz·es

(www.thefreedictionary.com/desensitization)

--To render insensitive or less sensitive.

--To make emotionally insensitive or unresponsive, as by long exposure or repeated shocks.

After nearly a year on the bus, it's safe to say I have become desensitized. Until recently, everything was new and exciting and worthy of a good story for friends.

I realized this roughly twenty-four times over these last couple of weeks.

Once when I was standing in the rain for fifteen minutes without caring that I didn't have shelter over my head.

Once when I watched three buses go by before mine showed up twenty minutes late.

The third time when I was followed off the bus and down the road by a woman telling me that we are living in the end times and I need to get saved.

Once when the bus driver and a passenger got in a screaming match while en route.

A few times when the bus drivers had enough of the arguing and pulled over to kick the man who cursed too much, the woman who was too drunk and the man who refused to pay off the bus in the middle of nowhere.

About ten times when I sat next to people who wanted to tell me their whole life story from beginning to end.

Once when a woman handed me her child so she could carry all her groceries onboard.

A couple more offers for "favors."

One bus-wide, thirty-person conversation about the NFL that was more educational than the news.

A couple of trips standing up and holding on for dear life because there were no seats left.

And one offer from 'Slim' to take me to work on his moped. (For the record, he fixes mopeds and carries his "tools," i.e. duct tape and a hammer, on his "bike" so he can help "others in need.")

According to Wikipedia, 'desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative or aversive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. It also occurs when an emotional response is repeatedly evoked in situations in which the action tendency that is associated with the emotion proves irrelevant or unnecessary.'

Yep, pretty much.

But then yesterday I was on the bus and, as I found my seat in the back, something happened that doesn't have an easy definition. I knew six fellow riders by first name and they knew mine. I will never be desensitized to the power of familiar faces on the bus in Indianapolis and the impact that had on me. I think bus ridership is expanding and diversifying and there is so much hope in that.

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