It was a Saturday afternoon, about 1:30, on a beautiful winter’s day and I was getting on the 86th Street bus. If you have ever been on this bus, you know it is full of New Yorkers as well as tourists. I knew this was not going to be your typical bus ride. The driver was singing the Frank Sinatra song “New York, New York,” asking everyone to join in. We walked on the bus cautiously, looking at the driver as if he were nuts. It was funny to watch us humans begin to smile and relate to this silly bus driver man.
The driver yelled out, “Anyone having a birthday?” A little boy in the back bus yelled out, “It’s my birthday!” and the driver rallied the whole bus to join in a modern rendition of happy birthday. The whole bus broke out in a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for the little boy in back of the bus. The driver told knock knock jokes as we crossed Central Park, going to the Westside.
This driver was able to do the impossible – get New Yorkers to stop reading their iPhones and relate to each other.
We are all so bombarded with fast ways of communicating. It’s like living on a diet of fast foods.
We walk on the streets and we drive our cars with our heads down, reading and sending and receiving. The subtle nuances of communicating face to face are getting lost.
Humans have a basic need to be heard and seen in a real and authentic way. When provided with that opportunity, we open up and get to experience ourselves in the world. I call it “the point of entry,” that very unique way in which people let you in to begin the conversation, to get to know you. The bus driver had a unique gift for creating an atmosphere of fun and delight and humor, of touching people and bringing them out of the mundane. His desire to connect, to be creative and to entertain was the catalyst for his actions.
When I am with a client or facilitating a group, I look for that point of entry. It is the start of the communication process. It creates the safety needed to begin to share.
In all the work I do, I see how important it is for people to connect with one another and share our common humanity.