Why we’re covering this: It’s Memorial Day weekend, and that means lots of great events… and that likely means taking the bus or the subway a lot. Why not use that time to make your holiday that much better with a new love?
There’s an unwritten rule everyone who rides public transportation knows: All people are crazy until proven otherwise. It can be loud, smelly, crowded and full of screaming babies, preachers, or mediocre jazz musicians. But every once in awhile, the planets align and something totally unexpected happens.
You’re sitting across the train when you make eye contact with someone you’re pretty sure you’ve seen in a dream. They seem to have all the qualities you look for in a partner and just when you’ve found enough courage to approach them, they step off the train – another missed connection. That’s when you kick yourself in the ass for not having the balls you thought you had. I think it’s about time you up your skills in the flirting department.
What is it about public transit that makes everyone forget about basic social skills? We haven’t entered another dimension with a different set of rules. We’re still on earth; we’re still human beings who enjoy a smile, a joke, a laugh, and acknowledgment of our existence. The moment we swipe our cards at the turntable, it’s as if we leave logic behind and exist only within our heads until we get to our stop. Trust me, flirting on public transportation is a skill we all need to learn sooner rather than later, and it’s easier than you think.
Stop trying to look mysterious. You already are.
Remember the unwritten law: Everyone is crazy until proven otherwise. There is no need to convince a stranger that you’re mysterious. You already have that with the whole “stranger” bit. In fact, looking mysterious is the last thing you want. You need to be approachable and open, not safe behind a wall of mystery. When you’re staring at them intently, trust me, they don’t think it’s sexy. They assume you’re a serial killer.
Take Out the Earplugs & Put Your Smartphone Away.
The second you put earplugs in or look down at your phone, you are sending a message to the world: “Don’t bother me.” I don’t care how many times you say you’re paying attention. When you’re bowing down typing up a storm, that’s where you are. You’re not present. You’re not on the train. And you’re most definitely not with anyone who might take interest in you. Look up for a change. You’ll see something much more interesting. People – they’re your friends!
Display that you’re a nice person.
There are plenty of ways to give clues into your character without blatantly telling someone. Give your seat up for a person struggling with grocery bags or a stroller. Let a mom or elderly person take precedence over your young and vibrant tushy. Give a dollar to a homeless person. Smile and bob your head to the tunes of the wannabe jazz singers or dancers performing on the train. Look like you’re enjoying yourself and the attitude will be infectious.
Look for material to break the ice.
There are clues all around if you use your head. Check out what kind of shirt they’re wearing, what pins they have or books they’re holding. Hell, you can even use the atmosphere itself. If there’s a crazy person rambling on about how Barney the Dinosaur is the antichrist — that’s comedy gold. You can’t make this stuff up. Use an experience as a way to make each other laugh and ultimately start cool conversations.
Know what your body language is saying.
I’m well aware of “Resting Bitch Face,” but there comes a time when you need to be aware of it too because it’s always going to lead to “Resting Bitch Pose.” Before any word is spoken, our bodies tell a story. It’s the difference between someone thinking you’re friendly, angry, depressed, joyful, vulnerable, or flirtatious. Don’t close yourself off by hiding in the corner seat so you can stare at nothing. As an experiment, try standing up in the middle of the row holding the center pole for a change. Make yourself seen and you might be surprised at how many heads pop up to take interest in the goods on display.
Ask for directions.
You both are on public transportation, so asking for directions isn’t going to be nearly as awkward as it might be on the street. Plus, it kind of places you both in an unusual position. Because you’re trapped inside a tube there’s literally no escape for at least a few minutes. If he or she doesn’t help you, then it’s pretty clear they’re an asshole anyway. Think of it as a quick judgment test.
Have food handy.
Mother always said that something good comes to those who are willing to share, and she was so right. I’d stay away from Cheetos if I were you and try sticking to non-sticky foods. Gummy bears, gummy worms, skittles, starbursts, and gum are pretty nifty things to have in your bag so you can whip ‘em out after a few minutes of conversing to say, “Would you like a piece?” It shows interest, trust, and sets the baseline for more common interests.
Hold a book.
The kind of material we have on us says a lot about who we are. You get a decent impression from a man or woman when you see them reading the Bible versus, say, Harry Potter or Fifty Shades of Grey. If you’re a reader, like I am, rid yourself of the Kindle and start carrying hard books again. If you’re reading on the subway there are always going to be curious eyes trying to figure out whatever it is you’re up to. Use it to your advantage. Think of it as springboard to help launch a new conversation.
Keep in mind… we’re all EQUALS.
The most beautiful thing about public transit is that no matter who you are in your daily life – CEO, thespian, writer, attorney, fast food worker, or bus driver – we’re equals at the present moment. This will take off a great deal of pressure because, at least for a while, you can enter conversations blindly when it comes to status. You’re riding the same train at the same time, which proves you definitely have more things in common than you think. Channel this for the greater good and let the idea ease your anxiety. We all want the same thing, but sometimes it takes a willing person to start the motion.
(Featured image via Johnny Silvercloud/Flickr)
Previously Published on February 25, 2015.