Sheila waited at the bus stop. After 10 minutes the bus arrived. There were a few seats available. Sheila sat next to a young man wearing headphones. The bus started off. Immediately, he stood up and stared at her.
“Do you want to get off?” asked Sheila.
The youth stared at her. Sheila gesticulated at the aisle and the youth started to push past her. She hurriedly got up.
“You could have asked. Politely.” Sheila spoke to no one in particular.
The youth stared at her and then walked to the front of the bus.
“It’s like he’s in a video game, where you just move around and don’t have to speak to anyone, just follow your instincts and do as you please. If someone gets in your way, you just zap them.” thought Sheila as she moved to the seat by the window vacated by the youth. She looked around at her fellow passengers.
On the seat in front, one male passenger was staring at a screen, watching something, Sheila wasn’t sure what. The female person next to him was playing a video game, vigorously using her thumbs. Around Sheila various conversations were going on with distant people.
“Yes, I’m on the bus. I’m on my way – I’ll be there in 10 minutes. Yes, I’ve got the milk and cabbage.”
“I’m on the bus, yes still on the bus like I was the last time I phoned you.”
“The cat’s done what? How did it even get in there I thought it was locked?”
Sheila looked at the seat opposite her. A young, good-looking girl was smiling as she spoke into her phone, quietly murmuring “Yeh, can you feel me touching you– is that good for you?” In front of this girl, a schoolgirl was using a small plastic pen to press buttons on a matching pink keyboard.
“No, just on my way home – I’ve not heard that no, why – your parole officer said what? That’s out of order, so when will you be going back to prison?”
Sheila reflected that she was on the bus too and was going home, but she didn’t feel the need to tell anyone. She took her book out of her bag and started to read.
“Hi, is this seat taken?”
Sheila ignored the voice as she has tuned out the background noise.
“Excuse me is it OK to sit here?”
Sheila looked up and replied “Oh yes, it is, sorry, I thought you were talking to someone else. With all these mobile phones you never know if someone is talking to you or not. I assume people aren’t talking to me.”
“That’s fine. I haven’t got a mobile.”
Sheila looked at the passenger, a young girl of around 21 who had a couple of bags.