Strange Bus Trip: The Number 135 And A Bus StopMay 5, 2010
A lot can happen in a day. You may not think so as you get on with what appears to be an average, not very exciting day, but many thoughts go through your head, weighing up decisions, which could lead to a good outcome, or not. You may come up against unfavourable situations where you either respond positively, negatively, or decide to let it go completely. This is what happened to me yesterday.
I was on the top deck of the135 bus, which, like the number 15 that featured in my last strange bus trip, was heading East to Pie Palace. I was getting close to my stop, so I pressed the button to alert the driver. The indicator for ‘bus stopping’ was lit and as I reached the lower deck, the indicator above the driver’s cab was also lit, in bright red. As the bus reached the stop, I prepared myself for the doors to open, but found myself in a state of confusion as the bus kept going. The confusion quickly turned to anger as I realised I was now on my way to a stop I didn’t want. I rang the bell several times, to no avail. Here was the choice: do I point out the driver error and let my feelings be known, or do I let it go and try and shake off my annoyance as I walk home? As the bus was slowing to the next stop, I walked up to the driver’s cab and asked him, as calmly and as quietly as I could, why he didn’t stop, when I rang the bell in plenty of time and the indicators were clearly lit. He was agitated and told me that the light wasn’t on! Mate! Don’t tell me that black is white. Don’t insult my intelligence like that. Now the gloves were off and we went at it like a good ‘un. I never raised my voice throughout that exchange, but I was forceful. He pointed to the sign and told me how it lets him know when he needs to stop. As if I’d never been on a bus before. I told him that it was already lit when I reached the bottom of the stairs and I expected the bus to stop. We continued to argue the toss about the finer points of bells and signals and when I pointed out yet again that I had rung the bell, he came up with the winner: I should’ve pressed harder. Everything stopped. I could no longer hear or see because the red mist was starting to descend like the Icelandic volcanic ash. What I’d always believed to be the foolproof alchemy of the bell ring and the illuminated signs on both the top and bottom deck was a sham. How silly of me. What I needed to do was press that poxy bell harder to make absolutely sure the bus was going to stop. Did Pie take the bait? Did the red mist fully descend? No. But it was close. I decided to continue with the calm, but forceful method of exchange.
At least once on a bus journey if you’re a regular user, there will be the person who has a big argument with the driver and holds up the bus. If the driver is really pissed off, he’ll shut off the engine. It’s at that point you realise your journey is at an end and you’d be better off leaving that bus and waiting for another. It happened to me a few weeks ago in Hackney where a passenger got on the bus and muttered something to the driver, who took offence. An argument ensued and as expected, the driver shut off the engine. Everyone on the bus started to complain loudly (they don’t go down quietly in Hackney) and then left because they’d had enough. The guys were still having a go at each other, when one woman decided to pitch in and have a go at the passenger who started it all. There was no pleasure to be had in that threesome. Suddenly aware that I was becoming that passenger who screws up the journey for everyone else, I decided to end the argument. When he started going on about how he had this big bus that he couldn’t just stop, I responded by saying: “I don’t expect you to do an emergency stop, but I do expect you to pay attention.” Those were my last words, but he hadn’t finished. His cussing followed me down the platform, to the doors, which were now open and out on to the street as I turned to walk back and make my way home.
Once indoors I had time to reflect on that event. I try to make positive connections with people as much as possible on a daily basis. My connection with that driver most definitely was not. I’m sure as he finished his shift on that horrible job, he totted up all the shitty people he encountered and I would’ve been on that list. I have my own daily and/or weekly shit list, but I also have the happy list and that puts things into perspective. I’m sure we all have those. Even though I was right, I also recognised that it was not that important in the scheme of things. I wasn’t taken so far out of my way that it would’ve been a longer journey home. On the plus side, I believe some of the things I said will sink in and he’ll do a better job. I hope the rest of the week is better for him and that we don’t bump into each other again, at least for a while. Chances are pretty high though, as I use that bus regularly. Let’s hope he has the memory of a Goldfish, rather than an Elephant.
What unfavourable situation have you found yourself in lately and what was your response? Was it positive? Negative? Or did you decide to let it go?