Middle Seat


It turns out that your neighbor on the plane/bus/train (or the person sitting at the next table at the coffee shop) is a very, very chatty tourist. Do you try to switch seats, go for a non-committal brief small talk, or make this person your new best friend?

Oh how I have learned this lesson…and I’ll even go as far to say I’ve learned it the hard way.

I take a commuter bus to and from work. It’s a 50 minute bus ride one way. In the morning, I can get on with the seat next to be still empty, but at night, I’m always the one sitting in a seat in which there is already someone else there. It’s a tale of two rides.

The morning commute, I get on, situate myself, and pull out my kindle. I place my backpack on the seat next to me until we get to the next stop. Once we arrive at the next stop, I survey the amount of people verses completely empty bus seats. If there aren’t enough seats, I place my backpack on my lap and since I got to pick the seat, I take the window seat, and slightly shift toward the window, thus ignoring anyone who happens to sit next to me. If no one sits next to me, then I put the backpack on the empty seat and continue reading in complete peace until I reach my destination.

The afternoon commute is a bit different. I’m one of the last ones to get on the bus, and therefore never have a seat to myself. I already know I will have to sit with my backpack on my lap, but I know exactly how to situate it so I can read on my kindle. But the trick to not getting anyone to talk with me is so easy…I get on the bus wearing headphones!

Yes, headphones! It doesn’t even need to be plugged into anything (just stick the end out of sight), although I usually plug it into my phone. No one will bother you! And…if you really want to block out the noise and just close your eyes, a pair of noise cancelling headphones is great for that, however, I find just putting on something soft (like Enya) and closing my eyes keeps all the chatter away from me.

Headphones are a necessity when it comes to public transportation. I don’t know what I would do without them. I rarely listen to anything while I wear them, but it keeps others from talking to you! And even the cheapest pair will filter out some of the noise.



  1. I chose to be the chatter box’s bff. But I don’t think I could do this on a regular basis. Kudos to you for the headphone idea! And you’re right. If I see someone with headphones in their ears, I’m not going to ask them a question or try to talk to them. Awesome idea. I think I’ll buy myself a pair just in case… Thanks!!


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