A survivors guide to public transport.


I have a friend who loves the bus. There are a multitude of things in this world that I will never quite understand, and this strange infatuation with public transport is one that really tops my list. (On the off chance that you are curious what else is on the list, number two is people who eat kiwi skins.)

We’re all busy, and we need to get from A to B. I’ve exhausted many a mode of transport in my time, including several scrapes, bruises hysterical tears involving roller-blades and a scooter (best not to ask). I’ve been trampled on the train, comfortable in the car and breathless on a bicycle – but more often than I would like, I find myself baffled on the bus.

I have a car, and I like to zip about in it like nobody’s business. It’s blue and it is the nicest thing I have ever owned. In fact, in the first week of owning it i genuinely just drove around my house in constant circles inwardly squealing with glee.

Sadly I can’t drive everywhere, partially because parking prices are astronomical, and also because there are rivers, oceans and swamps in the way sometimes. In situations such as these, I resign myself with a heavy heart to public transport.

Please don’t mistake this as me being snobby, I used to love the bus. I loved it so much I would pay for a day long ticket and just sit on it all day for the sheer thrill. (The last part is a lie, sorry.)

The relationship between the bus and I took a swerve for the worse when I started to notice the increasing amount of unusual incidents and people I happened across whilst on one, near one or even thinking about one. If I were Harry Potter (the dream) then I would have a scar in the shape of the First Bus Logo on my forehead and clutch at it, wincing in pain whenever I roamed too near a bus terminal.

Lets briefly examine some of the reasons that the bus is a little bit beastly:

1) They are never on time. You have a meeting at half past two? Well you’d be best leaving two weeks in advance, riding a camel. The bus you hope to be on will probably catch up with you at some point on your journey, if you’re lucky. Unfortunately it’s still unlikely that you will be on time for your meeting.

2) Bus drivers have gone mad with power. I’m not going to lie, if I were a bus driver I would be 102% likely to become delirious with power, and wreak havoc with bus routes and customer sanity alike.

Some of my funniest childhood memories are trying to coordinate catching the bus to school with my friend, Kirsty. We lived in streets right next to each other, with a bus stop considerably closer to mine than hers. Every morning I would wait at the stop for Kirsty to arrive, with the anticipation of the buses arrival in my stomach. Every day was the same. I would hear the distant choking of the engine just as I caught a glimpse of Kirsty emerging from her street, her eyes darting in the direction of the approaching bus. She would start to scurry forward, arms flailing at her sides in an attempt to arrive at the stop in time to hop on.

I knew it was futile, Kirsty knew it was futile and the bus driver who pulled up every day with a wicked glint in his laughing eyes, certainly knew there was no point in Kirsty running. Sometimes I’d offer:”Oh, my friend, she’s just coming, she’s running – can we wait?” I won’t even tell you what the driver’s response was as we hurtled towards school, him inwardly cackling, poor Kirsty left panting somewhere on the pavement and me toying with the guilt of leaving her behind, mingled with the hilarity of the whole thing.

3) They are the oddest shapes. Somewhere at Bus HQ, there are people brainstorming up the great ideas such as: “Lets stick another bus on top, or how about on the end with a spring in between?” I don’t know about you but frankly I’m concerned as to what could possibly come next. The notorious bendy-bus gives me the FEAR every time it risks a dodgy corner, and still everyone is astonished when it gets stuck.

4) I got stuck in the doors once. I feel this traumatic incident needs no further explanation.

5) Probably the most irritating of all the issues, are the people who frequent these vessels. I consider this an open letter to you all, where ever you may be:

To the lady in the rainbow feathered coat, standing in the middle of the road trying to flag down the bus. Please stop it, that is not how the bus works. You are disregarding every bus stop in the land by trying to flag us down, as well as risking getting flattened and resembling a squashed parrot,. (At least more than you already do.)

To the youth at the back of the bus who is blasting old tunes by DJ Sammy from his Samsung at the back of the bus. I banish thee back to 2006, where it was still not socially acceptable to act this way, but at least with more of your kind you could hopefully clump together elsewhere.

To the person who smells. (Why is there always someone who smells?!) If my nostrils could talk they would be howling.

To the man who insists on selecting the seat beside me, instead of the dozens of vacant ones surrounding me. Your motives are questionable sir.

To the person who comes on the bus ready for a fight. Usually recognisable by the manner in which they barge on to the bus, anorak clad with their chest puffed out like an angry Robin. They greet the driver with an “I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes” style rant, before turning to their fellow bus goers in an attempt to rally some support. I’ve seen this a few times and the results can range from a feeble cheer somewhere at the back, to sheer mutiny. Personally, I’m just trying to get to work, please keep this citizen rage to yourself.

To the sneaky individual who suddenly feigns a lack of hearing when we start to approach my stop. I have alerted you to it’s proximity through the usual techniques: collecting and rustling my bags, moving in my seat in preparation to stand, dinging the bell once, twice – even thrice. You ignored my polite: “well, this is me” and you are pointedly staring at a stranger at the other side of the bus. Please let me off, I in no way intend to extend this journey we have taken together.

To the poor individual who has fallen asleep. Where is your home? I’m concerned for your welfare and inwardly hope you didn’t mean to hop off the bus in Shetland.

To the person that I don’t know very well that defies societies guidelines and sits down beside me. First of all, points for being friendly, however you have now committed both of us to either half an hour of conversation, or a period of awkward silences and eye catching. Just say hello when you’re walking past to avoid us both babbling about the weather and what we had for lunch three days ago.

To the person on the phone who has just invited every fellow passenger into the finer details of their private life. We don’t know Brian, and we are sorry that you two are having trouble but we really didn’t need to know the gory details.

– I’m going to halt my tangent here, because I’m starting to worry that I may never stop this petrol fueled rant. In any case – bring a book, friend, or patience of a saint when encountering a bus because bless you kind sir, you’re going to need it.


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