Two men and a lady, stepping on at the Promenade. Their rugged appearance is rife with different textures and that instantly identifiable sickly sweet odor hums in the air. One of the men is quite the motormouth. He's found God, and he's got words he wants to say about it.
"I'm alive and unharmed today thanks to THA LOW-AD," he reminds his friends.
"He's always like this," says the woman to somebody, rolling her eyes.
He's no safety issue, nor is he disrespecting anyone, so I don't sweat it; some of the passengers eye me, as they are wont to do in "interesting" situations, curious to see how the driver will react to certain passengers. MotorMouth approaches me. Will the driver put on a tough guy face and order the fellow around? Will he be docile and ignore the guy? Will he-
"Heeeyyyyy, maaan, how's it going?" I say.
"Eeeyy, chief, I ain't seen you for a minute!"
"How you been doin'?"
"I been good, I been good..."
Bear with me as I briefly recount a point I made in my recent speech, in case you haven't seen it: in hunter-gatherer and early agrarian societies, conflict resolution had different aims than it does in city-states. Today, conflicts between citizens are solved by a legal system that attempts to identify the wrongdoer of the crime and assign the appropriate punishment.
Because in city-states populations are large, the perpetrator and victim have likely never interacted before and will likely never interact again after the episode is resolved. This form of dispute resolution is impossible in hunter-gatherer societies, because the populations are smaller, and therefore the victim and perpetrator certainly knew each other prior to the incident of the conflict, and will continue to know each other afterwards.
As a result, conflict resolution in traditional societies has a different goal- not to identify the wrongdoer, but rather to find a solution which will allow both parties to peaceably coexist after the incident. In other words, you interact with everyone on the understanding that they're always going to be around.
This is how I behave with "my peoples on the street," to coin a phrase. I've seen MotorMouth before, and I know I'll see him again. He's not anonymous. I might see him next week, next year, or in an hour. There's also the angle that he might have five brothers, or there might be a gun in his pocket. Although the routes I like tend not to have regulars, there are faces that keep showing up. Every day that I'm out here with them, is another day of letting those same people know how I treat people as a rule. One of the advantages of having driven for a few years (six now, for me! Where does time go?) is that this net of people who remember you expands. MotorMouth knows I'm not going to give him the finger, and he feels comfortable.
We talk for a bit, making joyous noise. His rampant religiosity and my ardent spiritualism find a meeting point in the idea of being thankful to be alive, or "UH-BUUV GRAOWND," as he puts it.
"Say, boss," he adds later on. He asks me for three transfers- one each for him and his pals- in a respectful and gentlemanly way. The circumstances are such that I oblige. He thanks me. Motormouth returns to his compatriots, gives them their newly minted transfers, and they step off the back. Motormouth waves to me, and then looks at his silent friends. I hear him say to them-
"Shit, dawg, you guys didn't even say thank you!"
I didn't need to hear that, but I'm glad I did.