Ever since that story came out about that guy who chopped up his seat partner, I’ve been a little extra cautious when I sit down on the bus. I mean the rule of thumb is that we don’t judge others — as good Christian folk we try not to notice a person making the same mistakes over and over, and we ignore the extra wing of eyeliner that in theory is a good idea but in practice just looks ridiculous. But the truth is, under every single one of our gazes lies an inner dialogue that — despite our efforts — ain’t always nice.
When I travel by Greyhound it’s because flying within Canada is stupid expensive and because my travel plans have been so last minute I couldn’t have made it to the airport in time. It’s not really by choice is what I’m saying. It’s a necessary evil of being on the go. There isn’t one single person ever, probably, who was all “man, I just had the best Greyhound trip.” That’s just not a sentence people utter.
I mean, if there’s one place in my little town that people go when they want to learn the definition of derelict — it’s the Greyhound station. It’s very transitory, very post-apocalyptic, the coffee tastes like gasoline and costs fifty cents, and absolutely everyone is traveling from somewhere like Fort McMurray or Moose Jaw.
And see? Just like that — judgement.
So how do we do it? How do we determine, through our horrible squinty eyes, which judgements take priority? I personally like to be the person at the window seat so I don’t have to be the one who decides if she’d rather have dread-locked smelly guy or sleeping mom with screaming baby — but I can only maintain my self-important bitch face for so long before someone’s pillar of judgmental priorities has me at the top.
And sometimes, I don’t have the luxury of getting on the bus first. Sometimes I have to wait my turn and — GASP — make that call.
I know we can’t judge books by the cover. I know what Jeffery Dahmer looks like and I’ll be the first to admit I think he was kind of hot in a creepy ’80s way.
I know we can’t judge the players of Big Brother by their first game.
I’ve been trying to convince my dad for years that just because someone rides a Harley doesn’t make them a criminal. I just happen to have always accidentally picked the criminal ones. My bad, dad.
People are filled with so many surprises. The beautiful 20 year old with her nose in a book — the one you think you’re safe beside — yeah, she conjured up some freaky shit after she read 50 Shades of Grey.
We just never know! Sure, the cover of a book can probably tell you what income bracket someone lives within and whether they like to lift, bro, but that’s about as far as it goes. It’s a horrible, horrible practice. And the thing we always seem to forget is that everyone knows we’re doing it.
So I’ve developed a method of madness that is still totally judgmental, but that makes the whole process a little easier. I simply sit down beside whoever looks like they wouldn’t mind having me fall asleep on their shoulder accidentally. Yeah, maybe it’s because they want to chop me up. Maybe it’s because they’re leaving Fort McMurray for the first time in 60 days. Maybe it’s because the lady is reading a Bible in her seat and she knows that the nice thing to do is just let me rest my eyes for a bit at her expense. Whatever the reason, I judge based on what I think they think of me as opposed to the other way around.
Then I get off the bus and think to myself great, now my face smells like patchouli.