I have started boarding the bus to the wastelands, four stops later than what has traditionally been my boarding point. As the mornings are shortening, I am finding it more of a challenge to peel myself from my pit. Hence I am leaving the house later. If I walk a marginally longer route to this new point, I can save myself seven minutes extra in a morning. For an evening person, these extra seven minutes in the scratcher each day, are more precious than gold dust.
The only problem with boarding the bus on the fourth stop, is that my aromatic fellow travellers take liberties. They regularly sit in my designated seat. I will admit that I am joking – to an extent – when I claim to be obsessive compulsive about sitting in the same spot each day. The reality is that I am slightly more easy going. I’ll sit anywhere – but I’ll do a quick analysis before committing to a place.
I rarely use the top deck – even by stop four, there is usually sufficient space downstairs.
The view from upstairs can be more scenic on certain routes. But on my journey to work, the vista is one of harrowing bleakness. Plus there is a tendency for the passengers to be more feral up there.
The vast majority are just ordinary individuals like myself, transporting themselves about their business. But for passengers with more nefarious intent, upstairs is where you want to be. To have a cheeky little cigarette, or an elegant bag of cans, or a quick fumble with your equally hollow eyed partner, perhaps?
With the driver monitoring the downstairs circus more closely, the lower deck tends to be a more predictable journey.
The secret to locating a good seat, is a quick left to right side-eye as you board the bus.
The mothers with the buggies generally tend to be in the area marked for wheelchairs. As well as the infant, they will often have a slightly older child with them. It always confuses me why the child takes the seat in this area and leaves the poor mother standing. A few months working up a chimney would put some manners on them. Some of the mothers have even older children with them – Bruiser and Beyonce being the best known. They mingle in the regular seats with the rest of the masses.
The foreign nationals working in the international call centre en route to work, are instantly recognisable. Perhaps they have an air of bohemian glamour about them. They tend to be aged between early twenties and mid-thirties. I like to look at them – sometimes I even have impure thoughts about some among their number. I try to avoid sitting next to them though. Particularly a certain few of them. The loud ones. Either in their conversations with each other, or more infuriatingly on the telephone, they seem to enjoy having a conversation at the top of their voice for the duration of the entire trip. As they speak in a foreign tongue I cannot even eavesdrop. That is just thoughtless of them. It is a test of endurance to hear words with the cadence of an automatic weapon, on a crowded, sweaty bus at 8am each morning.
The patients for the drugs clinic, or the ones who have fallen off the wagon, tend to be the most disruptive and the most likely to get thrown off the bus. On the few occasions they do not sit upstairs they will sometimes try to engage their fellow passengers or the driver in conversation. This can be entertaining – they mostly mean well, but often have a heightened perception of what constitutes regular behaviour. Calling someone a speccy four-eyed bollocks is not kind, for example.
Then there are the visitors going to see their friends and families in the specialist hospital (not the drug clinic). These people tend to ask the driver or their fellow passengers which stop they need to disembark at.
These are my favourite passengers to sit beside. They tend to be quiet, well behaved, and get out half way through my journey, leaving me to wallow in my solitary splendour for the rest of my trip.
And then I arrive at my destination, get out of the bus. And trudge to work. Bright eyed for another day in the coalface of administration.