Travelling by bus from Utrecht to Wageningen I was reminded of a scene in the movie ‘Forrest Gump’. On his first day of school Forrest resists stepping into the bus, telling the driver: ‘Mama said not to be taking rides from strangers… I am Forrest, Forrest Gump… Well, now, we ain’t strangers anymore.’ Then he gets on the bus.
On that bus ride to Wageningen, I observed many passengers greeting the driver as they entered the bus, even if they didn’t have to buy a ticket. As a German I am not used to greeting bus drivers if I am not going to engage in a conversation with them after that. So saying ‘Hi’ to the driver is not familiar to me, for a start.
What was even more surprising was that people continued this politeness before they left the bus. I spent quite some time in that bus and noticed that people waved, said ‘thank you’ or even ‘goodbye’ when they got out of the bus. At first, I assumed that these people knew the driver or that maybe they thanked him because he gave them some time to check out with their OV-chip card. But it turns out this is a normal custom here.
I wonder if Dutch mamas even tell their children to introduce themselves to the bus driver, the way Forrest Gump did? I don’t go as far as introducing myself to the driver, but since this bus ride I also say ‘hi’ and ‘goodbye’ when I take the bus. Rebekka Mejda, MSc student of Applied Communication Science, from Germany
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