Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Citizens of 4F, Oct. 20, 2010

Grey-haired Martha sits at nearly the same latitude each morning on the 4F bus into downtown Minneapolis. Sometimes it's the left, and sometimes the right, but always she is very nearly one-third of the distance back from the front of the bus.

Each morning she reads the same magazine: TV Digest. Until I noticed this, I wasn't even aware that the magazine was still published anymore. Now it's an oversized publication, like People or Newsweek, not the small Readers-Digest size that I remember from years ago. I'm kind of amazed that it's still in print anymore, though if any magazine has a chance to survive in our culture, it would be one devoted to television, I suppose.

I'm also impressed that Martha finds enough new to read there each morning. Other than the schedule logs themselves, the editorial content of TV Digest looks to be pretty sparse. Is Martha just boning up on the evening TV schedules each and every day? Or does the magazine now have enough editorial content to offer 4 hours or so of reading each week?

Martha begins each morning sitting adjacent to the window, but as the bus begins to fill up, by about Franklin Avenue, she moves to an aisle seat. This has the impact of making it hard for anyone to sit next to her, and so it seems like a slightly mean-spirited thing to do, like those people who place their briefcases or backpacks on the seat next to themselves, effectively denying the seat to folks who might wind up standing. I don't like thinking that this is the kind of person she is.

So I settle on a more charitable explanation. She moves to the aisle seat so that, if another person comes and takes the window seat, she won't have to disturb them when her bus stop comes on the south edge of downtown and she arises to exit.

I'm not entirely convinced, though. It's the TV Digest that spoils it for me.

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