Why I hate buses
When I was much younger, and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I used to say "a bus driver". My Dad was one, and children tend to copy what they see. Gradually that ambition morphed into lawyer then journalist then lecturer then retire as early as possible. Seeing my Dad get up at 4 in the morning to start the early shift, or getting in after midnight, upset because various drunks had threatened him and refused to pay, was enough to put me off.
These days I try to avoid buses as much as possible. We didn't have a car when we were growing up, so we went everywhere by bus, and I've had more than my fair share of riding on them. But today, my fella had the car so I had to catch one to work. I always dread those rare days because I never know the rules and invariably end up humilating myself. Last time the driver refused to let me on because I tried to pay with a £10 note. This time, the humiliation began when I got on the bus with a Cafe Nero drink. I put it on the ledge by the window as I fished the correct change out of my wallet.
"That had better not be a hot drink!" the driver scolded. "You're not allowed to put it there."
So I had to pick it up and then use one hand to get my money out. The driver scowled at me the whole time, drunk on power. Everyone else glared at me, as I held up the queue. I wanted to give her some sort of passive-aggressive parting shot like making an allusion to insane health and safety laws or the Third Reich, but knew that she'd throw me off for insubordination, so I just skulked to the first empty seat in shame.
Apparently I got off lightly - some drivers won't let anyone on the bus if they have coffee.
Then the other aspect of buses that I hate kicked in. All these people I know from work got on, and then we all pretended that we didn't see each other so we wouldn't have to make polite conversation the whole way. At least I didn't have to face Lancaster's new scourge which has been reported in our local newspaper - religious militants getting on the bus, sitting next to people and then trapping them into conversations where they try to brainwash you.
As the bus lurched off the main route to enter a confusing housing estate, adding another ten minutes to the journey, a hand tapped me on the shoulder from behind. I looked round. A wizened face wearing a rainhat (it wasn't raining) beamed at me.
"Are you a lecturer?"
"Yes," I said. Everyone looked at me again.
"So am I!" said the face.
"That's nice," I replied.
That was the extent of our conversation, although about ten minutes later I heard and felt him give a terrific disease-ridden cough onto my neck.
My fella actually likes getting the bus. This is one area where we are very different.