The Bus of Comeuppance


Here’s the story of rudeness, positivity, and vengeance.

It’s my seat, dagnabbit! I get on the same damn bus five days a week and I sit in the same damn seat. And someone has only gone and stolen it! Now, you might think this doesn’t matter. It’s trivial. You’ll never, ever get the same seat on public transport. Maybe in a big city like London, but most places, by their very nature, aren’t London. I have sat on that same seat for just over a year and one day this week, when I got on, someone else was sitting in it! I’m very not happy. Fair enough if it was a one off. But the next day – there she was again! And the next day, too! That’s now her seat! That’s not fair! It’s the farthest forward seat on the bus, a single seat right behind the doors, raised up rather high. My stop is halfway down a road and very easy to miss. I need to sit in that seat so I can spot where to get off. I’m so used to that very seat that I missed my stop twice this week I’m so damn confused. ‘Just use landmarks,’ you say. ‘Just use landmarks.’ Have you seen a row of Victorian terraces! They all look the bloody same! I am outraged! I’ll get the last laugh. One day someone will get on before her and she’ll be usurped to that very seat, whilst I watch on laughing maniacally and pointing furiously at her…

There is method in the madness, of course. Not just the great vantage point that solitary seat affords me. What if an old person sits next to me on the other seats, all two abreast? With absolutely no legroom, by the way. Then I’m going to have to ask a frail old person to shift so I can get out. I feel awful doing that. And you know what the British are like. The tutting you get from old people when you ask them to move is not only audible, but also rather distinctive. They have this ‘bus routine.’ They come on with their trolleys and take a few minutes to sit down. They shuffle around in their seats. They put their tickets in those old people purses. They sort their hair out. And then they start ranting to their friends. “ALL THESE BORING MODERN BUILDINGS! THEY HAD A BIT CHARACTER BACK IN MY DAY, I TELL YOU THAT MUCH, ETHEL! ETHEL! ETHEL!” “IT’S TERRY! YOU’RE ETHEL!” “AH, THAT’S RIGHT…”

Still, they’re very friendly. I was once asked by an older person where I was going. “The Mall,” I said. “WHAT?” “THE MALL!” “Ah, The Mall. I like The Mall. I remember when it was called The Cleveland Centre. They had a lovely old shop in there. I used to work in there, son.” Okey-dokey. Son. They all call me ‘son’ for some reason. I bet she’s delighted they changed the name back. This is the British Cleveland, by the way. Not the one in America whose name they stole from us. Not that I’m jaded about it. It would also be an exceptionally long bus ride, but I’m waffling…

I tell you what, you don’t half overhear some conversations on the bus. Some rather depressing. There’s this one woman who gets on every day and she often meets up with a friend on the bus. “Tell you what, right. Young people these days, the under 30s and all that, have absolutely no future. Every single one of them are living off benefits, riddled with taxes and bills. Life is miserable for all of them. That’s what I’d say to them. Don’t bother. Everything’s awful. Your life will be a constant stream of never ending shit.” I’m under 30. It’s rather depressing to hear somebody say that. I was looking forward to the day I move into my own place. Now when I think about it, I curl up into a ball and start whimpering. I had all my colour schemes chosen, too. Now when I look at a tub of paint I just think, well, what’s the point in anything? I’d hate to see her in the hospital. Oh, she’s a nurse at our local hospital. It says so on her name badge. An actual nurse. I hope that if I ever break a bone, I don’t get her. She probably wouldn’t give me a lollypop…

You see the same people on the bus every day. There’s a guy from Lebanon who I see at church every week, too. There’s that guy who goes to the golf course every single day, come rain or shine, although I do think he works there. Keeps staring at me. I’ve noticed a lot of people do that, lately. Don’t know why. I have a funny face. That’s probably it. There’s that real cute girl who often sits near to me. And then there’s the usual assortment of kids heading to college. Like that one lad who tried to get on for half price, which you can only do if you’re 15 or under. “How old are you?” said the driver. “16.” “Nope, full price, please.” “Sorry, I meant I’m 16 next week.” Seriously! I was trying so hard not to laugh. You have to admire his gumption, don’t you?

I like the drivers. I do remember their faces. That one driver who let me on for a little bit less than the fare because they’d changed the prices and didn’t bother telling anyone. Nice to see the great British public offering me a little spare change so I could go to college. Oh, wait, no they didn’t. We’re not very polite. That’s my message to visitors. I picked up two toys and a drinks carton this week that babies had thrown on the bus. Gave them back to the mothers. I got a forced nod from one mother. Nothing off the other two. I won’t bother next time, then. You pick it up, then…

Still, there are the nice drivers out there. There was a young mother and her very young daughter running for the bus this week. The driver noticed them and stopped to wait for them, something most drivers wouldn’t bother doing. “You’re lucky I stopped,” he said, jokingly. “Everyone on this bus didn’t want me too; that lad right at the back in the black coat said, ‘They’re nowhere near the stop – keep driving!’” Ah. I had a good chuckle over that. I think the joke was lost on the three-year-old, though. “What? You weren’t going to stop? Why?” she said, rather dejected. Aww. Good luck teaching a toddler irony.

It’s not just babies and toddlers to contend with, either. I hate dogs. With a passion. I see more than my fair share of those on the bus, including one blonde number this week the size of a St. Bernard. I don’t know the breed, I don’t care. All I was doing between it getting on and me getting off was planning the best escape routes if it should attack because, let’s be clear about this, it could, with very little effort, kill us all in a heartbeat. And, as we all know, dogs are inherently evil and are planning an uprising against humanity. It’s just a fact, really. Top tip if you also hate dogs and one gets on to the train or bus you might be on. Stay calm, obviously. But if the owner senses you are uncomfortable, capitalise on it. I did once. “Oh, don’t worry. He’s very friendly,” the owner said to me. No, they’re not. They’re all pure evil! “Oh, it’s not that,” I said. “I’m a bit allergic.” “Oh, God. Sorry. I’ll move.” And he did. Down the other end of the bus. I’m not allergic, but I succeeded in getting the dog as far away from me as humanly possible…

At least I was lucky enough to grab a seat. Most days it’s so crampacked you either have to stand, which the drivers hate (“I’m on camera, sit down!”) or sit next to someone else. And if that’s a young girl, she won’t want you sitting next to her. “Oh my God, there’s this ugly nerd sitting next to me.” Sigh. I once heard a girl I was sitting next to say that on her phone, thinking whispering equates to silence. Told you we’re rude. And she was even more pissed off when a two-seat arrangement became available and I didn’t move to it. I hate people who do that. It’s so rude. When that happens to me, I think, ‘Oh, do I smell?’ Okay, I probably do, but it’s still rude.

Still, gotta remain positive in life, haven’t you? When I go on that bus, and I’m not bragging here, I go passed a few shops with signs and window graphics that I’ve designed. I feel so proud. Oh, I’m an ugly nerd? Cool. I designed that. What have you achieved, love? Aye, don’t let the bullies win. Whether they be dog-wielding bastards, know-it-all young’uns with a rotten mouth, jaded nurses or even a woman who steals your favourite seat. Something I’m not at all angry about. Just as long as she knows that one day, one day, she’ll get her comeuppance.

Mwa, ha, ha, ha…

American writer and photographer, Kathryn Brooks (b. 1963), once wrote: ‘Vengeance is one of life’s great motivators.’

Peace Out :|:

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To Contrive & Jive
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