Saturday, 28 September 2013
I learned to drive just to avoid the embarrassment that comes with public transport...
I guarantee it's not just my own social ineptitude that results in these awkward experiences, I've seen it happen to others too. Once, while on a bus which was stuck in traffic, I watched an old lady lean forward to see what was causing the hold up. She had been sitting on one of the those folding chairs near the front. She leaned just far enough to let the seat creep silently back to its native position, before she found a new seat, on the bones of her arse.
On another occasion, my mother clutched a man's hand for the entire journey believing it to be the hand-railing.
I do my best to narrow the opportunity for these conditions, but it's not cost effective to park in the city while I go to work. Instead, I must ride the cold morning bus with the rest of the chumps, and something uncomfortable usually happens...
The most recent example of this being my attempt to flag down an uncharacteristically fast moving coach which was bounding towards me. As I threw my hand into the air to catch the driver's eye, I launched a stream of glistening coins out in front of me. I then stood aghast as the number 58 to the city centre rested snugly on top of them, a sleeping dragon guarding a golden egg.
I still had enough change to pay my fare, as it happens. But in the commotion, between picking up the remaining scraps and smiling awkwardly at the girl staring, I had put it back into my pocket.
Which pocket? Well, who knows? It all happened so fast.
To add insult to injury, I was the first to arrive at the bus stop and consequently first to climb aboard (punctuality be damned) to meet the anxious and disappointed looking driver. (He looked like a man who didn't have a very nice personality on account of him not having a very nice family, but this was purely conjecture.)
I asked for the city centre and placed a pound coin on his tray - the only coin I had retrieved. A pound has never looked sadder.
The driver grimaced.
I rummaged through my pockets in search of further remuneration, navigating the wiry traps of my headphones, and managed to touch upon a pleasantly thick, round surface. I withdrew it triumphantly, only to discover it was a ten pence piece.
"How much is it?" I asked.
"Oh, one-eighty is it? I thought it was one ninety five?" An unhelpful rebuttal.
I began thinking that, contrary to popular belief, buses are on a schedule, and I was causing a hold up as I fidgeted and patted. My pockets were grandparents, withholding money I rightly deserved.
Success! A pound coin!
Nope, just another ten pence piece. Strange how ten pence can feel like a pound when you're desperate.
The driver's eyes bore down on me. Glum zombies sat unimpressed (as if the job I'd made them late for even mattered). I was sweating, distressed. "Check the back pockets again, Scott." Still empty.
Like a cruel fairground game, my pincer fingers were failing to hoist a prize. But then, as my hand squirmed through my ever tightening pocket, a real, honest to goodness, British pound coin appears at my fingertips. Relieved, I handed it over and scampered to the back of the bus.
The girl I'd smiled at earlier was on my mind as I slumped in my seat. I didn't like her. As sure as I was going to blog about this, she was going to tell all her friends about the funny man who threw all his money under a bus.
I'll throw her under a bus.