A whole new world of Upstairs/Downstairs

The tram network in Dublin is called the Luas. It currently comprises of two lines – the Green Line from Leopardstown to Saint Stephen’s Green is also known as the Posh Line – well to me anyway; and the Red Line which goes from Tallaght to the Point and is also known as the Scary Line. When these lines opened twelve years ago, whatever planning genius that designed them, decided to create them as two completely separate lines which never interconnect.

Perhaps it was the city council who decided that it would be better to avoid the building chaos in the city centre by having them connected. Or was it to ensure that some of the more entrepreneurial characters in Dublin city centre were kept separate from those busy little corporate worker bees and yummy mummies with their yoga mats, on the Green Line? Plying their ‘4 blueys for a score’ trade might not sit well the business crowd.

In hindsight this was as moronic an idea as ripping up the extensive tram network that existed in Dublin until the 1950s, to enable more cars gain access to the roads.  Inevitably, twelve years late they are connecting and extending the two lines. All they are doing by refitting the lines now is replacing something that worked quite well previously , at a cost of billions.

As a result the city centre has been a building site since I moved into town. I am not complaining – being aware as I am that it’s inevitable, unavoidable and essential. And that at this rate of progress there may be a train line connecting Dublin Airport to the city centre one decade near in the future.

That said, my daily bus route has been disrupted since yesterday when an ominous warning was sent out to advise that my bus-stop was out of commission until further notice because of tram works. And that instead of my quiet, pleasant first stop, I must now mount the vehicle at the chaotic second stop on the route.

This was upsetting to me. As a creature of habit, on my morning commute I have a preferred seat on the bottom deck of the bus. In fact, if I find someone else has the temerity to sit there before I do, I would almost feel justified in asking them to get out of my space. Please.  Naturally I don’t as that would be weird. But I do throw them evils – resentful little glances throughout the journey. The audacity of them.

At my new stop the crowds are more assertive in boarding the bus. And there are so many more of them. This morning I was standing with poor access to  the door when it opened. I boarded late to the horrible realisation that not only was my seat occupied but that I would in fact be required to go upstairs and sit with the upstairs crowd.

I felt like an illegal alien, encroaching on their space. I recognised all of them as I see them boarding each day. But I felt like a distant second cousin, who I might possibly meet every three years at a wedding or a funeral. I have not had the honour of eavesdropping on their morning conversations or witnessing their routines, being more accustomed to the downstairs crew. I am a stranger, among them.

I was not even certain if they are sitting where they regularly sit. But there they all were – the preternaturally good looking Iralian guy who exits the bus two stops before I do who wears a cigarette over his right ear. The bespectacled Polish (?) guy who works in the building next door to me. The zany Irish girl with her neon tights and funky sneakers.

I sat and quietly observed them. Perhaps I need to be more open minded – until the tram works are finished I may be spending more time with these people.

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