Urban bubbles

I'm fascinated by the hordes who run about Centretown in virtual bubbles, disappearing into imagined invisibility. Those with cars have used 'em as private domains for years. Just pick out all the drivers pickin' their noses, troweling on makeup, or making unknowing spectacles of themselves to the beats of spectacularly uncool music, oblivious to the fact that all of us see into their bubbles. But many bubbles are much more compact these days.

Coyotes run close enough to the ground that our noses rub in reality pretty constantly. Aggie might say we live 'in-the-moment'. Yet I see virtual bubbles that alter reality everywhere. Devices like cell phones wrap their users in tiny individual universes, light-years from this one. So that they can hold excruciatingly loud personal conversations about their herpes test results with their unsympathetic significant others. And me. I am even less sympathetic. (Extra bubble points to lame-asses who think they, unlike the hoi-polloi, can drive and phone at the same time. You drive exceedingly badly. All of you. You're just so far out of it that you never see your own wakes of catastrophic near-misses. Lucky for you -- and my bushy tail -- that we coyotes are nimble leapers. I digress.)

Or the besuited Blackberry brigades that ricochet blindly off others as they walk, eyes downcast and texting thumbs excitedly a-quiver. (Again, extra bubble points to idiots who think they can do this whilst driving. See above.)

And the somewhat more benign legions of Pod People, ears filled to overflowing with tiny stylish white headphones, eyes fixed on some inscrutable far distance. Owners of these devices use them to magically manufacture their own worlds. (And we semi-mythical coyotes know from magic....)

At the other end of the urban bubble spectrum are the shopping cart people. Sounds like a non-sequitur, but work with me: any given day, numbers of rather grubby men (a few women, but mostly men) trail each other on their self-appointed rounds, wheeling liberated free-range shopping carts full of cans and bottles between highrise recycling bins, tossing 'em for a few bucks' worth of glass, aluminum or plastic.

Shopping carts, of course, differ from i/berries. People with small stylish devices tend to use 'em to make their own virtual bubbles. The rest of us have no choice but to deal with their sometimes-profound lack of physical focus as they bob, weave and stutter their ways down the street. But most straight citizens - even those not jacked into somethin' - seem to deal with the can collectors and bottle pickers through an act of collective will that creates bubbles to make others disappear, instead of themselves. It's odd. Eccentric and colorful as they may be, very few really see shopping cart people at their business. As an oft-unnoticed urban coyote, I feel a certain kinship.

And I hafta say, I have never yet seen anybody with a cartful of salvage, wearing an iPod....

image: Rappensuncle, under Creative Commons 2.0


The Independent Observer said...

And you might add the smoking collectives perpetually assembled outside C'town's federal office buildings, creating factory-quality plumes while blocking doorways. Yeah, they do chat with one another, but seem locked in their own little multi-person bubbles all the same.

coyote said...

...And I always want to take a nice long roll in the dirt after I've walked past 'em. Just to clean up a little....