Tuesday, October 04, 2005

On the bus

I'd left my car in Bristol and couldn't face an evening in my little spartan student room so I decided to go into town to get a movie and then meet a friend for a drink. Unfortunately this involved getting a bus. I haven't been on a bus in 15 years (and had forgotten how). Fortunately, my friend advised me which ones to get and which ones to avoid (some of them take the long way and you are stuck on them forever.) So I went to queue.

I hadn't realised how dependent I had become on my car. I go everywhere by car (probably explains why my waist size has grown a coupla inches since I started driving). And I had forgotten how random and boring public transport is. You sacrifice all your autonomy and just have to wait and wait and sit there and wait. I do get trains occasionally, but always go first class, so it's more like being in a moving hotel and you barely notice you're travelling.

The first bad sign was that there was nobody else at the bus-stop, which mean a lot of waiting. Then, just as I was losing all hope, a bus came. But it went away without letting anyone on it. Then another bus came so I got on it. I asked for a ticket into town. The driver gave me a scornful look and said "Single or Return." Anyway, I took my seat and waited and waited, while people kindly shared their germs with me by coughing and sneezing.
The bus just sat there for 10 minutes and I had nothing to do but breathe bacteria. Eventually it set off. But as it was heading to town it took a right turn and yes, I had got on the bus that goes round the long way, so had to sit through a half hour of Residential Hell before making my destination.

After the film (Pride and Prejudice - OK), I met my friend and we caught up. I told him about what it was like living in a student room and getting the bus. I was being all brave, going "I'll cope with this." And he said "You know what, I feel like I'm visiting you in prison." I feel like Goldie Hawn at the beginning of Private Benjamin. I'm sure that eventually I will adapt to these circumstances, like she did, and come out a stronger and better person, with more tolerance and respect for people. Yet I don't want to. I don't want to have to deal with any of it. Oh well.

Later, we walked back through town. "Are you getting the bus back to campus?" my friend asked. "Are you kidding?" I said. "Maybe I'll try again in another 15 years." Thank God for taxi ranks. Private Benjamin's epiphany can wait.

1 comment:

Trashbinder said...

I too avoid buses like the plague. There's just something so wrong about them.

I recall catching one opposite my Grandmother's house in 1992 and went into Birmingham. During the twenty minute journey, this small child kept running up and down the bus with her arms outstretched slapping the backs of passengers and screaming.

No-one was claiming ownership of the brat and in the end an alarmed pensioner stood up and said 'whose child is this, running out of control?!'.

To my horror, the sixteen year old girl, blowing bubblegum and reading Smash Hits shouted 'Kylie, come 'ere' without even looking up.

The journey home was worse, as a big fat woman sat eating a cream cake from a Greggs Bakery bag, trying to be all secretive but failing dismally. After finishing it, she had a coughing fit and was then sick all down her front.

I have not been on a bus since.