Markus Stocker bio photo

Markus Stocker

Between information technology and environmental science with a flair for economics, the clarinet, and the world of soups and salads.

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Recently I took the bus between Baltimore Washington International Airport and the Greenbelt Metro Station coming back from Madison, Wisconsin. It was evening and it was dark. The bus came to a stop, a 20 minutes halt before returning back on its route. The driver stepped out of the bus and didn’t turn off the engine.

Incidentally, I was reading a book on environmental issues and I could literally measure how my anger about the running engines grew in me. For five minutes I struggled with myself whether or not I should step out of the bus and ask the driver if there was any reason for the engines to run.

Eventually I stood up, stepped out of the bus, and walked towards the driver, who was sitting outside on a big stone at the end of the sidewalk. While walking I tried to come up with a question that didn’t seem accusing or attacking. The best I came up with was; “Excuse me, is it because of the interior bus lights that the engine can’t be turned off?”. He replied, “yes, that’s right” and, to my surprise, he didn’t seem to have felt annoyed.

I assumed he was telling me the truth and went back to the bus, annoyed. Is it possible that in our technological world we sit on a bus with interior lightning that can’t run temporarily on a rechargeable battery?

The next logical step for me would have been to ask the 5 passengers, 3 of them reading, if they would have been OK with sitting in the dark for awhile and enjoy the silence of the evening. But of course, I felt this to be too daring.

I sat back on my seat. Instead of going ahead in turning the pages of the book I had in my hands, my mind began to imagine how that moment would have been sitting together in the dark for a good cause. Perhaps instead of reading without caring for each other we, the passengers and driver, would have talked together. Perhaps my first question in the dark would have been, “who has a story to tell?”.