Exposing Myself to Strangers On the Bus

Sorry for the overtly provocative title – I couldn’t help myself.  ;) It’s honestly the first thing that came to mind earlier this week on the last stretch of my morning commute.

In addition to the briefcase containing my work laptop, etc., I carry an extra canvas tote with a couple of books, magazines and periodicals, etc.  I have a decent-length commute, so I like to have ample reading material on hand.  Well, I just happen to have been carrying a couple of print copies of The Atheist Voice, the newsletter published by the Metroplex Atheists.

Just enough of the newsletter was sticking up in the bag for the title to be clearly visible.  Little did I know, I had a copy wedged into opposite sides of the bag’s interior, so the same was true no matter which way the bag was turned.  I was busy reading a newspaper (disclosure: it was a copy of Freethought Today, published by FFRF).  I happened to notice the exposed newsletter, and while I hadn’t deliberately placed the papers that way, I suspected a couple of held glances at my bag.  I let my eyes skip up from my reading, just to try and catch someone looking, and watch for their reaction, if there was any.

Well, not quite.  I’m not even 100% sure anyone really noticed it, but I had the very distinct feeling a man did, then later a woman (who also works in my office, it turns out) did.  There really was no discernible reaction, but it felt like an odd little rush.  It reminded me of when I used to ride the train or bus and read my copy of ‘The Lucifer Principle‘ by Howard K. Bloom.  It actually has nothing to do with the “Lucifer” of Christian mythology, but I always chuckled a bit on the inside wondering if the other commuters were intrigued, scandalized, or otherwise.  What can I say, I guess I enjoy a wee bit of high dudgeon – given or received – from time to time.

I have no shame in my position or loss of faith.  (Tangent alert!) It doesn’t feel quite right to even say ‘loss of faith’ since I never really had much to begin with.  But, I digress.  I have no shame about what I feel and believe (and thus, don’t believe), but I’m still getting past the stigma the word ‘atheist’ has attached to it  (see my “Coming Out” post).

This oh-so-mild form of exposure to outsiders and strangers felt a tad bit taboo, forbidden, and yet… exhilarating, and right.  It felt good to let go of some societal baggage, and to let others know that we’re out here.  I wondered what the woman who works in my office thought.  I don’t really know her, but we share a walk from the bus into the office each morning in the pre-dawn dark, and we’ve made the usual forced small talk.  I wondered if she might think I’m a nice guy, and what (if anything) this new revelation might do to that impression, if it exists at all.

Since then, I’ve been somewhat shocked and pleasantly surprised to find out several friends and acquaintances are non-believers of some ilk.  My, my, we are indeed out here, aren’t we?

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5 thoughts on “Exposing Myself to Strangers On the Bus

  1. We are out there, but in the bible belt we usually keep our mouths shut because here being an atheist is next to being a murderer or child molester. I become more comfortable with it everyday, but I still don’t feel comfortable enough to let my family know. I believe some of them have an idea, but I’ve never confirmed it.

    It would be nice for it to just not matter, but it does to a lot of people.

    • I know what you mean. Someone commented online to something I’d posted, saying, “I know you’re an atheist…” and it was kind of weird, b/c I certainly don’t hide where my views on religion are, but very few people in my real life know of this blog, so maybe it’s more overtly apparent than I thought…haha!

      • I noticed that comment on facebook. You’re not posting Jesus stuff like most of facebook is and you have posted books and sites you like on FB which are’nt tooting Gods horn so I guess some people notice it. I did:)

        Christians can say and think some very silly things. I know because I used to be one not long ago. The things I convinced myself of sometimes still surprise me!

  2. Well sir, you know I am not very shy about expressing my “theological” point of view, (all you have to do is take a glance at my desk) and that, at various points has caused people to either avoid me ( after deciding I am a devil worshiper) or make it their cause to show me the wrong in my ways. It is sad that the so called “educated people” it so absurdly ignorant.

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