Ring the Dingy

When my cousin Christopher was 6, he and his family were traveling on a bus in some metropolitan area, Chicago, I think it was. Christopher, in his childlike persistence and enthusiasm for pushing buttons and making noise and such, was insistent that he should get to “ring the dingy.”

“I get to ring the dingy, right?” he asked my Uncle Jim.
“Yes, Christopher, you can ring the dingy,” Jim would reply. Then, of course, after a few moments…”But Jim, I get to ring the dingy, right?”

The time drew near for Christopher and fam to exit the bus, and, as the story goes, Uncle Jim got a little excited.

“Come on Christopher! Ring the dingy! Ring the dingy!”

It’s an odd little etiquette we have on buses, isn’t it? I watched this morning as a young woman sitting in the front seat of my bus rang the dingy, though she could have just as easily leaned over and said, excuse me, ma’am, but I will need to get off at this stop. I thought of this odd transport of communication, that instead of going from person to person, this idea is transferred via telegraph regardless of one’s situation on the bus. I mean, immediately afterward, the woman said “thank you and have a nice day” to our driver, it wasn’t as if direct communication between these two human beings was irreperably impaired by some universal happenstace.

We are a society that is used to prosthetic media. We have telephones and Internet and television and yes, we have the dingy. Social circumstance and national mindset mean that, given a choice between interacting directly or poking someone with a stick, well, we’ll pick up the stick every time. That’s just the way it’s done, I guess. When you’re on the bus, you ring the dingy.

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