Before I start I need to point out that I am not really a morning person. Well, it’s not so much that I'm not a morning person, it’s more that I generally hate getting out of bed, regardless what time that actually takes place. Getting up at noon is as offensive to me as getting up at 6am. Being up is unpleasant, and people who are ‘morning people’ (you know who you are) are abhorrent. “You’re missing the best part of the day by festering in bed, get up and enjoy the morning”. Shut your face. My bed is the best part of the day, everything I do after I get out of it is an inconvenience that I have to put up with until I can get back there.
I'm going to set the scene. I get up at 7.10, I get dressed, I take care of the usual personal hygiene requirements, I sort out my stuff for work, on a Tuesday morning I bring the relevant bin round to the front of the house ready for the bin men, I put on my coat, I get the bird up and at 7.35 (or thereabouts) I leave the house. Sometimes I call at Tesco on my way to the bus station, depending on whether I need food/money. In any event, I arrive at the bus station no later than 7.45. The bus I get to work departs from the bus station at 7.52, so I am always in good time to catch it. Not once have I missed it, or even had to run to catch it on
time. Not once.
So how, I ask you, is it so difficult for other people to do the same? Every morning, without fail, there are 2 people who have to run for the bus. And it’s always the same 2 people: 2 people who I will henceforth refer to as Hong Kong Sally and Squinty Sue. Hong Kong Sally is a Chinese lady who catches the bus from the bus station. Generally the bus arrives at the station at about 7.40 or so, and the driver has 5 minutes off the bus where he’ll get a coffee and go for a crafty fag. Even then, there’s still a good 5 or 10 minutes for all the passengers (of which there are a lot) to get onto the bus before it leaves. People tend to get to the station around the same time as the bus, and steadily the number builds until there are about 20 or so people waiting to board. I can guarantee that every other passenger is on the bus, sitting down, and the bus driver will have closed the doors when Sally comes running up to it. And then, once she gets onto the bus, she spends 2 minutes fannying around trying to find her purse in her bag. That’s another of my bugbears. Have your money ready before you get on the bus, don’t spend time fumbling and holding everything up, just because you’re not able to get out of bed 5 minutes earlier. Personally I think Sally is a bit stupid. Every morning she spends £4.80 on a daily ticket, when she could spend £19 and get one for the week. Like I say, a bit stupid. The other of these incessantly tardy passengers is Squinty Sue. I call her this because she can’t see more than a foot in front of her face. Now, I'm not being offensive or abusing someone with a disability – I've seen Sue in town wearing glasses, and she doesn't squint at all. Why does she refuse to wear them to work? I don’t understand it. If I didn't wear my glasses I’d spend the day squinting too, which is why I am always bespectacled. Sue gets on the bus at the first stop after the bus station, which is also a very busy stop, usually with about 15 people waiting to board. To reach this stop, the bus comes to a crossroads with traffic lights, and turns right up a hill. Every morning, from my vantage point at the front of the bus, I see Sue running across the road and up the hill, quite often racing the bus. Only for the fact that the bus stop is so busy does she actually make it at all.
There are a few regular characters I see on the bus every day. In addition to Sue and Sally and a couple of others I will discuss in more detail later, there is also Poirot. Obviously it’s not actually Poirot, but it is in fact a woman who a) looks like a new transsexual who thinks that long hair and lipstick a convincing woman makes, and b) has the David Suchet Poirot shuffling walk down to a fine art. Woman! Pick your feet up! There is cockney Mick, a painful stereotype who works the nightshift somewhere and drinks three cans of Red Bull while waiting for the bus. I don’t even know how you could drink one can, let alone three. Rank. There’s the big fat jolly man in a fedora who very nearly throws himself under the bus every morning in order to guarantee that he gets on it first. I sometimes wonder what all these people must think of me when they see me. “There’s the purple girl again, in her same seat, headphones in, staring at everyone who gets on. What’s her problem?”
The next of my issues with the bus is the array of smells that pervade the air, and more importantly, my nostrils. At the second bus stop are a group of Indian men who perpetually smell of curry. I think they all live together in some kind of house share, because they all arrive at the bus stop together, they get off the bus together, they sit together and talk loudly throughout the journey (which annoys me – more on that later). Presumably they also all cook and eat together, and the smell permeates everything – their clothes, their bags, and their skin (probably). Again, this isn't me being offensive at all, just observant. While I dislike the odour of Vindaloo Vic and his merry men, I equally dislike the pungent aroma of Johnny Pot-Smoker, an unashamed scally who dresses exclusively in tracksuits, has 2 Chinese symbols tattooed on his neck (obviously with some deep meaning) and smells (not so subtly) of weed. Perhaps on a Friday night, one or other (or both) of these fragrances would be more appealing, but at 8am on a Monday morning not so much.
As previously stated, morning people get on my wick. Those jolly people who are all chatty and happy and bright. You, sir, have no place in my life, and definitely not before 9am. When these people grace the bus with their sickeningly sunny disposition it makes me wish I had a pea shooter. I remember reading somewhere that it would be good if it was socially acceptable to throw water balloons at people who irritate you. ‘I don’t want to hurt you, but I do want to ruin your day’. I agree with this statement. Now, I was raised to have good manners and I'm always polite to the bus driver, but I don’t stand having a good old chinwag with him while there are people behind me, cold people, wanting to get on. And when 2 of these people get together a revolting level of loud chat ensues. Thank heaven for headphones and obnoxious music.
These issues aside, by far my biggest problem with this particular bus is the seating, or more specifically peoples’ inability to apply logic to a task as straightforward as sitting on a bus. As I've already attested, the bus is quite busy at this time in a morning, so seats are at a premium. Which is the main reason why I leave the house earlier: so that I can walk to extra few minutes to the bus station instead of the nearest bus stop, so I can guarantee myself a decent seat. I do, of course, understand that it isn't feasible for everyone to walk to the bus station, and indeed it would defeat the object of having bus stops at all, but there should at least be rules to seating and people should be made to adhere to them.
For the first 3 or 4 bus stops, people are fairly sensible and sit, first, in the window seats, and then will begin to occupy up the aisle seats as the bus gets busier. However, there are always a couple of people who disagree with this way of doing things: people who sit on the aisle seat and leave the window seat empty meaning that anyone who wants to occupy the window seat has to ask you to move; people who spread themselves out in the middle of a row of 3 seats so that there isn't quite enough room for anyone to sit either side of you without having to ask you to move your shit. These renegades fuck me off and their actions have 2 possible outcomes.
1. People are forced to ask you to move, thus eliciting conversation that I find to be unnecessary at that time in the morning, and because you didn't really want to sit next to anyone in the first place (we all know your game and we’re not impressed by it) you huff and glare at them, making them feel like turd, all because they have the audacity to want to sit down.
2. People don’t want to engage in the above, so instead they stand.
There is another renegade who fucks me off even more – the one that stands even when there are clearly still seats available: seats that don’t even require you to interact with another person; seats that you could occupy without having to so much as make eye contact with another human being. I can understand a person’s reluctance to sit next to Vic or Johnny, but come on, you’re on public transport, suck it up and deal with the public Shirley. Because if you stand, everyone who boards the bus after you will think ‘this man is standing, he must be doing so because there are no seats for him to sit in. Thus I must stand too’.
Standing brings with it a gamut of other problems, because people don’t really seem to understand the etiquette for standing on a bus. You see those big yellow poles appearing at intervals down the length of the bus? They are neither structural nor aesthetic; they are for holding, so that you don’t fall over while the bus is moving. Those people who do have to stand are meant to filter down the bus, starting at the back, holding on to said yellow poles, and as the bus fills the standers get closer to the front. Not so. The first person who has to stand will do so 3 inches behind the driver’s cab. The next passenger tries to squeeze into this 3-inch gap, and so it continues until there are 10 people crowded into the first 6 feet of the bus, so tightly packed that even Johnny’s pot smoke couldn't get through, let alone a passenger wishing to disembark. For some reason that is beyond my comprehension there is a distinct refusal to space out. I want to shout at them, I actually want to yell in their stupid faces that it’s quite a simple process – move down the fucking bus. If you get in my way when I need to get off I'm going to kick you in the shins. And then, at the last stop before I get to work, on get Cat and India – two Alderley Edge School for Girls pupils and living proof that money cannot buy sense – who are of the opinion that the bag rack is for sitting in, and the floor is the correct place for their school bags, sports bags and hockey sticks. What about when people need to get off the bus? Do they pick up their bags at this point? They do not. What they do is stick one of their legs over it, so instead of tripping on the bag you can trip on their leg instead – much better.
Considering this is how I start my day, it’s a miracle I'm so pleasant.
There is one positive about the bus ride to work (although to be fair it would be the same good thing if I was in a car). On a telegraph pole there's a plastic holder, and in said holder there is always, without fail, a bunch of yellow roses. The reason this makes me smile is because yellow roses were the favourite flower of my mother, and evidently they are the favourite flower of someone else too. I guess they may be commemorating something sad, but every day when I see them I think of my Ma, and that can only be a good thing.