You know, as we trundle, ham-fist and wing our way through the ongoing supernova of chaos, hangovers and impromptu decisions that we call life, we all seem to take a hell of a lot for granted. Things that, one hundred years ago, we’d have considered well and truly in the realms of science fiction, like stuff that the modern Jules Verne chap wrote about.
For example, I woke up today, and the first thing I did, like many of you, was turn the alarm off on my phone. Not only is the idea of a digital alarm relatively recent, but it exists on a device that can access more information than the entirety of the Library (sic Ruins) of Alexandria in mere seconds, thanks to the power of the world wide web.
We tend to use it for cat videos, whatever The Lad Bible is burbling on about, and Kim K’s latest selfie.
Today I happen to be quite lucky; it’s my day off. Yet if it wasn’t, I’d be catching the bus into town to get to campus. Mundane as all hell? Yes, and something we take for granted, but the whole concept and execution of a bus is really rather bizarre when you think about it. Work with me here.
So, you need to get somewhere which you can’t walk to, has no train connection, and you have yet to pass your driving test. Begrudgingly, you realise that the bus is the best option. As such, you find yourself waiting on the bus stop (I call 2:1 on it smelling like piss. Who’s taking that bet?). Hopefully you are alone, because maybe this is a British thing or just me being an anti-social yob but I tend to find that the kind of person who starts a conversation with you at a bus stop is precisely the kind of person you don’t want to start a conversation with you at a bus stop. Now don’t get me wrong, I usually try to be very friendly, outgoing and approachable, but there’s something about the bus service that seems to attract the crazy fifty to sixty year old “Hello! Do you like bees?” kind of people. A usual shield from this is a pair of headphones, but I’ve known people to stand/sit next to me and wave just to get my attention whilst I have the music blaring. It’s very upsetting.
But now the bus has arrived and you’ve gotten on.
“Can I get a day ticket please, mate?”
As a brief interjection here, odds are I’ll only need the return trip, yet holding up the bus to find out whether the return or day ticket is best is out of the question. It’s all very well inconveniencing twenty or so people by making them wait until you realise you have to sit down and then be silently glowered at and judged for the remainder of the journey.
So you hand him the cash, never a twenty note, unless you want to be stared at like you’ve just told him you have airborne AIDS, and grab your ticket and change and sit down. Another thing, why do buses not yet take cards? I’m aware that London apparently has some sort of Lobster/Prawn/Something-Fishy Card system, but here in the Commonlands we’re still stuck with counting coins and crap Wi-Fi.
So you’ve paid for your right to sit on this cramped, bumpy oblong-with-wheels and away we go. Hopefully you’ve scored a forward facing seat, because if you’re one of the two or three unlucky sods who get the seats looking towards the back of the bus, having to avoid making eye contact with complete strangers for the whole trip, then have fun with that.
This is where headphones once again come in handy, because nine times out of ten, there’s going to be a dreadfully awkward silence for the entirety of the journey. However, if you don’t find yourself so fortunate so as to have a pair on you, you get to play the bus equivalent of Russian Roulette whereby the stakes are either absolute silence all the way up to screaming baby or shrieking phone user.
Honestly I find the former excusable, some parents have to catch the bus and the kid doesn’t know any better. The latter however, is an utterly different matter.
“GARETH? GARETH?! DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THAT GARETH BABE, HE’S A RIGHT TWAT”.
Poor Gareth, I’m sure whatever he did didn’t warrant an entire busload of strangers hearing the news about his most recent mis-adventures through Blunderland. Alas, such is the way of things. The ironic thing is that they always shout so loudly and yet always seem to need to repeat themselves twice per statement.
“SHARICE? NAH, SHE AIN’T SPEAKIN’ TO ME BUTT. I SAID SHE AIN’T TALKIN’ TO ME MATE, BLOODY COW. NAH YOU HEADDER, SHE’S THE COW, NOT YOU!”
No names have been changed here because I made them up, however I don’t feel I particularly need to prove the above occurrences; just get on a bus somewhere and experience the magic for yourself. It’s like Jeremy Kyle that you have to pay for.
Once the grand voyage is over, it’s time to disembark. What happens next is a thoroughly British phenomenon which 90% seem to do and never question.
Those two words mean far more than any Yelp, Amazon or YouTube review. When dismounting the vehicle it’s absolutely essential that you utter these two words, else the driver and everybody around you think you a complete tosser. I’m personally not complaining about this, s/he got me to where I wanted to go for a high price that ultimately, they didn’t decide on. Respect to the drivers in all honesty, just remember that all I’ve just described is practically their job description.
And who’d have thought I’d have rounded off a rant about buses with a moral message?
I certainly didn’t.