On a recent weekday I had very similar situations happen on both my morning and my evening commutes, and it got me thinking.
I rode my first bus down, got off and transferred to the next bus. I chose a seat mid-way back, noticing that the front, center-facing seats were rather empty but for two men. Shortly after the bus started moving, one man (the rather gray-haired white man) started just yammering about black people and how they were not treated right and that Jesse Jackson had some good things to say...and that black people weren't less intelligent - that his nurse told him that you shouldn't judge someone on their IQ, because everyone was human....
This went on throughout the rest of my ride on the bus. People got on the bus, heard him ranting, and moved to the back of the bus. He tried to make eye contact with people, but they (and I) looked away - unsure what to do, or just uncomfortable with the situation.
Then, that evening--again on the 2nd bus--I got on, found a seat, and promptly was treated to a similar situation. This time it was a black guy just ranting - at and about anything...how the bus was being driven, who had gotten on, what the weather was like...all at the top of his lungs with a LISP. And again, he tried to draw people into his world. I tried not to look in his direction - which was kind of hard, since he was directly in front of me and facing my direction.
I know these people are people, harmless more than likely. They deserve respect, honesty, and caring....but when you're on a bus confronted by them....how do you respond? If you speak to them, sometimes they just get more vocal, more into their delusion. But if you don't, if you ignore them....does that make you unfeeling? Uninterested? Uncaring?
It's kind of sad in today's world that these people, who probably should be someplace caring, taking the proper meds, getting the right counseling, being cared for...that they're out in the regular world usually because they can't afford proper treatment. That's the majority of our homeless situation (that, and the delightful economy taking people's homes and jobs)....institutions and hospitals who can't keep someone where they need to be because insurance or other funds are not willing to pay anything any more.
Anyhow. I'm just curious about how other people would handle these situations.