I begin with laughter, because sometimes laughter is all we have to get through the day. This is a statement that could only be enhanced by some contemporary dance, or at least some expressive hand movements. Anyway, I digress.......
So last night after babysitting, I left around 9.45 pm and had the choice of:
- Wait twenty minutes at Farringdon for the next Thames Link service.
- Get the tube, changing once at Kings Cross.
- Or, get the 46 bus and have a bit longer to read my book. Other pros of the bus are that it takes me to the end of my road, whereas the other two options involve a ten minute walk.
So, I went with option 3. Mistake!
The bus came around 10pm, the standard waiting time for a 46 is anywhere between ten and twenty eight minutes - this figure will become clear later. And so, headphones in, head in a book we set off.
Five minutes later, we are in the third lane of traffic somewhere along Greys Inn Road, stuck in a jam with a bus as full as rush hour - why? Was everyone babysitting? - when two young lads appear at the door, having weaved through the traffic. But what was even weirder was the two middle aged women that appeared behind them, having traversed the cars and buses. Now, I didn't realise at first, but the lads actually opened the doors themselves from outside the bus. I just thought the bus driver had done it, but it seems the bus driver actually tried to close it back on them. Anyhoo, they got into the bus and zapped their passes and then words were had with the bus driver.
I have to interject here as to the hilarity of the situation. I'm not making any of this up but it will seem like a comedy sketch. So, the bus driver had a really thick Indian accent, the two teenager lads were both black, and the two ladies were white, one of them over sixty and with a super posh accent. This is when the headphones came out and the book closed.
So the bus driver is yelling that they had 'no right to open the doors of the bus.' The teens didn't say anything, just shrugged. But the posh elder lady pipes up, 'What do you mean we've no right? We've been waiting twenty eight minutes for a bus and you didn't stop at the stop, you pulled out into the third lane to go around the other buses that stopped.' Then the bus driver hit back with another, you could have died sentiment, and again the lady threw back, 'but we didn't. And you had no right to skip our stop.'
This went on a couple more minutes and then they got on, sat down and the bus began to move. All good, right? Er.....no.
So, he then pulls into the next stop, opens the doors - front and back - and refuses to go anywhere. The women are still going on about how out of order the bus driver was and are threatening to call the bus police or something, whilst the bus driver sticks to his guns and refuses to leave until the young lads get off. They are stood, arms crossed, shrugging, no words and of course refusing to get off. I mean, they had paid their fares, so it's fair enough.
A younger lady tried to talk the bus driver around but he was sticking to his story of, they had no right and someone could have died, blah, blah, blah. And still we weren't getting anywhere. So this younger lady then asked the lads if they would get off so the rest of us could get home. Older lady pipes up, 'Why should they? They've done nothing wrong. They protected us. They shouldn't have to get off the bus.' Small argument between the two ladies, with lots of comments thrown in from other bus users, who just wanted to get the fuck home. It was now about 10.10 pm.
Meanwhile, another posh 60+ lady tries to ring the number on the bus, for complaints, but can't get through. Someone shouts out about calling the police, but then someone else shouts out that would waste 999's time. Lots of shouting back and forth and nothing happening. I just sat back and took it all in. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any drunks on or anything, so the situation didn't become violent or aggressive.
The bus driver continued to say no to every one's protests and said, 'it happens every day.' Then posh 60+ lady gets the funniest line award of the evening: 'Well get another job.' Ha. Love it. But you have to imagine it in a beautifully posh accent. Amazing. I burst out laughing as did another few of the passengers. Then she continued: 'I'm 65, I've got Parkinson's, I'm ill and I just want to go home. I've worked for 45 years and I'm fucking tired!' Yes! She dropped the F bomb. Legend. Bus driver pipes up: 'language.' Ha ha. So much laughter.
Then more women and men came up to plead, some with no money to get another journey, others with children at home, others with elderly relatives with them, and others just wanting to get feckin' moving! But the bus driver was like a defiant toddler having a tantrum. He could not be moved or persuaded or coerced, and he refused to move until 'we' removed the boys from the bus. As one lady rightly said, 'How can we just throw someone off a bus? We can't do that.' And as many others said, 'we have paid for a service, and you are supposed to provide that service.' But we were just hit again with the refrain, 'I'm not going anywhere until the boys get off.' it's about 10.20 pm now.
Then, another 46 pulls in behind us, and most of the bus vacates. If I'd been thinking clearer I would have stayed on, because the boys had jumped off and our bus could have left, without me having to pay another fare. But I forgot, in the absurdity of the situation and so I leapt off and joined the rest of the gang - bit of stranger bonding going on - and of course the bus driver wouldn't let us on for free even though he'd seen us all get off the other bus. He wouldn't listen to an explanation either, so we all just muttered under our breath and paid again. One guy did make an argument and the new bus driver wanted us to get transfer tickets - as if the other bus driver would have given them - but he had already driven off.
And as posh 60+ lady - of F bomb fame - rightly put it, 'Of all the bus routes in London, it's always the 46. There is always someone being thrown off, or it stops to change drivers, or stopping at every stop for two minutes.' I feel your pain love, I really do. How much of my life is spent waiting for that thing, let alone the time I'm actually on it?
So, as I eventually arrived at my bus stop, I jump off to find the other bus - the bus I should have been on - trailing behind it. Ha ha. Beat you by thirty seconds. I could see some of the dejected passengers still on there. And it took me one hour to get home.
Next time, I'll take option 1 or 2, me thinks.
Safe travelling out there. You literally never know what's gonna happen.