Student - 16 april 2015

‘Now we ain’t strangers anymore’


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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Een busrit van Utrecht naar Wageningen deed Rebekka Mejda denken aan Forrest Gump die tegen de chauffeur zei: ‘Mama zegt dat ik niet met vreemden mag meerijden. Ik ben Forrest, Forrest Gump. Zo, nu zijn we geen vreemden meer van elkaar.’ Opvallend veel Nederlanders groeten de buschauffeur. En als ze uitstappen zwaaien ze vriendelijk, zeggen ‘bedankt’, of zelfs ‘tot ziens’. Rebekka gaat niet zo ver dat ze zichzelf voorstelt aan de chauffeur, maar ze groet nu wel als ze de bus neemt.

Re:acties 1

  • Rebekka

    Hey Lennart and Zowi, Thanks for your reactions. @Zowi, I grew up in a small village and later moved to a big city in Germany. But even in the small village we did not have this nice custom. So next time I'll be in the small village, I might try it ;-)


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  • Lennart

    I assume that greeting bus drivers originates from the days before OV-chipkaart, when the driver had to put a stamp on your "strippenkaart". Apart from that, I think it is nice to be friendly to people. Saying good bye to the driver when leaving the bus seems to me to be a new phenomenon which I first noticed a few years ago. I sometimes copy this behaviour myself too. Especially when the bus is almost empty.

  • Zowi

    Hey Rebekka, I grew up in Amsterdam and I can tell you this greeting of the bus driver phenomena was also a bit of a culture shock for me.. So it is not really a Dutch thing, I believe, but more of a small place thing.. This begs the question, do you live in a big town in Germany? Anyhow, I like it!