Thought For The Day #1707 February 2014
Broadcast 7th of February 2014 on BBC Radio Bristol
For the last few years I’ve been playing a game with myself where I count the number of people I recognise on my commute. I set off on foot from The Downs in Bristol and usually see three or four familiar faces by the time I reach Clifton Station. Changing trains at Temple Meads is where I notch up most of my points. There are staff there that I know will be in the same place every day. So by the time the 9.22 leaves for Bath I might already have a score of over ten. The last little walk to the office has never been that fruitful. But nevertheless I keep my eyes peeled for that last minute sighting that gives me a new personal best. My current record is 33.
I’m quite competitive, even against myself, I think that’s the main reason I do it. But if I’m honest, I have to say loneliness is a factor as well. Me and my commute faces are a team, we go through the same monotonous journey day in day out.
There’s a new word that’s become popular on the Internet recently; ‘sonder,’ which means, ‘the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own’. What was commute face number 4 thinking about as he stared out the window at Montpelier Station? I don’t know him, just like I don’t know 99% of the people I pass on my way to work. But every single one of them, just like me, has hopes and fears that excite and hurt in exactly the same way. And who knows, maybe even one of my commute faces counts me as commute face number 4.