Strange Bus Trip: The Number 135 And A Bus Stop

May 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?



  1. This is similar to the need to press a lift button more than once, so the elevator will think that several people are waiting instead of just you. Electrical switches are sensitive to intent and emotional intensity, in case you didn’t know.

    I clean, dress and feed people whose brains don’t work properly for a living, so I’m able to give ordinary ignorance and denial a pass.

    • You continue to be the voice of reason when I go off on one. Thanks very much. I’ll keep in mind the sensitivity of switches and make my intentions clearer in the future. That must’ve been where I went wrong.

      • I’m with Mikey. My first thought was “Well, this explains the need for repeatedly pressing the elevator button”. It really IS a matter of cause and effect.
        You’ll have to start working out with your index finger, apparently Peter Pointer needs some flexing!

        • Can you get dumbells for index fingers? Maybe Kettlebells. That’s it. Kettlebells are more effective.

  2. Yes that person who held the bus up once by having an argument with the bus driver was… me. I’ll explain: I had no loose change so had to use a tenner but I thought it wouldn’t be a problem since I was getting one of those tickets that cost 9 quid and last you all week. Got on, the female bus driver tells me she has no change but wil let me on the bus anyway. So far so… okay-ish.

    Then I get halfway through my journey, it’s very early in the morning and an inspector gets on. And the bus driver doesn’t explain. The inspector forces me to get off at the next stop and says if I don’t I’ll get a fine. I move in that direction to get the bus driver to be on my side but she decides it would be funny to pretend that I didn’t bother paying for my ticket – liar!

    I didn’t throw a real paddy but I looked like a complete idiot and no matter how much I argued it wasn’t getting any easier. So I had to walk twice the distance to work in the pouring rain. At the time I was a student and it was an exam morning. I made it just in time and had to sit for the whole thing soaking wet – even my exam paper had a wet patch!

    • Scarlet – that’s outrageous! Now don’t even get me started on the ones that trap you in the automatic doors…

  3. I once had a tram driver close the doors and move off *JUST* as I was about to get up the first step.. on crutches. (yeah I’m accident prone so I’m a regular on sticks) I even saw someone jump up and try and push the door back open, to no avail, the driver seemed determined to leave without me.
    At first I mutteringly wished the driver a lousy day, but after I calmed down and thought a bit, I realised that he probably already was…
    I realised that in spite of my predicament I had a lot to be happy and thankful for and that maybe he didn’t.
    In the end who knows… but I have found that people who dish out either good or bad usually get an equal measure of it with interest back sometime in the future.
    That knowledge and belief helps keep my blood pressure away from boiling point on many occasion.
    And yes I’ve done my fair share of walking when they didn’t stop here either, one regular driver on a bus I routinely took was I think, trying for the land speed record in a bus, it was literally a white knuckle ride, it got saner and safer after a load of passengers had a go at the driver after he pulled so fast into a bus Halt and piled on the brakes so hard that an old lady who was trying to get off fell over… Mass Irate Passengers.. THAT was a show you wanted tickets for can I tell you !

    • Those speeding bus drivers are something else, aren’t they? Hurrah for those passengers who kicked off after that poor woman fell over – people power rules!

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