Although I drive, I regularly use the bus for work. Over the years bus travel has changed. The coming of the deregularisation of public transport in my view wrecked bus travel. Now everything is run on a shoe string to maximise profit. This means that buses are dirty, expensive and rarely run on time. Added to that there are some drivers with a serious attitude problem, but conversely there are some passengers who are downright rude so guess it balances itself out.
Buses seats have also got smaller as people have got bigger. Have you noticed that a two person seat now actually fits one and a half peoplle or an adult and a child. And believe me, sitting with one buttock hanging in the gangway is not a good look!
But the biggest thing that bugs me are passengers who decide to sit next to you and then bestow on you the great honour of coping with their shopping. Take this evening. This forty-something woman gets and and throws herself into the seat beside me. Instantly I find myself coping with not only someone of Amazonian proportions, I’m crushed against the window as she decides to share a shoulder bag, a large tote and two long handled designer carriers. Not only that, she keeps moving about. I think she’s on a bit of a bottom wriggle to see whether she can move me even farther into the bus wall. I have a tactic to cope with this, it’s called an elbow. As the bus corners and we’re thrown to the left so she shifts away from me for a few seconds and when it straightens and she brings her weight back against me, she finds my elbow there. Very effective as it soon made her slip the bags from her sholder and put them on the floor.
Since the arrival of the mobile phone, the once silent bus journey you may have had is no more. Instead you are treated to the most intimate details of peoples’ lives. Take today on the first bus of my two bus journey. A young woman is sitting half way up the bus on her phone. Everyone gets on, pays fares and settles. The bus gets underway. The conversation which we passengers are then privty to consists of this girl repeating everything her friend on the other end is saying. If this isn’t playing to the gallery I don’t know what is. Working at a hospital also means very often you share the bus with passengers who have been there on an outpatients appointment. The public revelations are amazing! What goes on between a consultant and patient is to all intents and purposes confidential. And yet people (again on mobiles) reveal the most intimate details. One woman spent the whole journey from hospital to bus station going through her gynae appointment. While another man who complained he’d had to stay there all day and drink gallons of water to undertake kidney tests, was entertaining us all with his personal plumbing problems!
How life has changed since as an eighteen year old newly qualified secretary I travelled to work on a completely silent bus full of people. And what’s brought about that change? Why is is that the man or woman in the street is so in your face these days with the sort of information you’d rather not know about? No one it appears minds making a fool of themselves, shouting inappropriate things down a mobile while in the presence of total strangers. Like the girl who informed her friend (and the rest of us), that her boyfriend was going to get a loan and hand it over to her to pay her debts because the bank had refused her application. It also appeared that the boyfriend was going to stump up the monthly payments for this loan because in her own words ‘well I’m just hopeless with money.’ I’m pleased to say, however, I now have a fabulous deterrent against all this verbal intrusion, I’ve bought an iPod which just drowns everything out!