Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Have you ever taken time out to observe how people select seats on buses here in London? Do you really know what informed your choice of that particular seat when you travelled home last night by bus.

If you have never given it a thought, then I think it’d be fun if you start to observe how people choose their seats on buses, maybe over the course of next week. You could start by noting down your own choices of seats and why you chose that particular seat.

For sometimes now, I’ve been watching people take seat on buses, I’ve been observing my own choices too and I think our choices of what seat to take on a bus is influenced by these 3 factors: Privacy, Race and availability and in that order too.

Note that my observation is based on the double-seat system on most London buses, where two seats are joined together to form a double-seat which are meant to sit two people comfortably.


People get on busses and automatically look for empty double-seats first, if there is a half occupied double-seat close by and an empty one farther down, I have noticed that people would rather walk farther down to take the unoccupied double-seat than have a seat-mate.

Another scenario: lets say two people are sitting on a double-seat and another two sitting behind them, let it happen that the two in the back seat alighted at the same stop, you would often notice that one of the people sitting in the front double-seat will often get up to occupy the now empty double-seat behind. Everybody craves privacy.


Now let it happen that all the double-seats in the bus are half occupied, you would start noticing is that most people would sit with someone who has the same colour as themselves. I often find myself choosing a double-seat occupied by a person of my colour. This has nothing to do with racism. The process of thoughts and action happens spontaneously.

Also sex, sexuality or ethnicity too can come into play here, e.g. let it happen that all the double-seats are half occupied by only black people, A Naija might find another Naija to seat with, a girl might prefer to seat with a girl while a gay would rather pair with another gay.


Working down from the first 2 scenarios, the 3rd factor that informs our choice of where to seat will now depend on the availability of seats in the bus. Where a bus is almost full and there are only about a couple of seats available, there will be no option to be selective, you just sit on any available seat or choose to stand.

If I were a programmer, my code for the above mind program would be as follows:

If {Bus = Empty},

Then; Find empty double-seat, Sit alone

If {All double-seat = Half occupied},

Then; Find seat-mate of same colour, sex or sexuality, Sit

If {Bus = Almost full},

Then Sit anywhere

Else: STAND.


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