Traffic. Stuck in traffic. A snails pace. Had I been in a car, My car, I would have taken a diversion but we are unable to do that. We are bound to this route and I am a passenger / prisoner trapped within the confines of this Jeremy Kyle special guest tour bus.
It really doesn’t help matters when you generally don’t like commuters anyway. They smell. They cough. They clear their throats. They talk on their phone loudly. They play shit music that I don’t want to listen to. They can be so fat that they don’t fit down the aisle properly and end up dragging their fat arse over my shoulder rendering me a victim of being mere millimetres from a sweaty dark place that hasn’t seen daylight since Labour took government to the theme tune of Things Can Only Get Better by D-ream.
I’m not one to criticise the driving style of another man. Especially if that man is giving me a lift. But our grunting driver had a serious issue with the weight of his foot on the break. It would suggest that the Network West Midlands school of bus driving doesn’t have a section that teaches the benefit of smooth braking for the benefit of the bus and the comfort of the passengers. No, instead their manual would appear to say hit the brakes as hard as physically possible at every possible opportunity. Especially when queueing in traffic. Every passenger nodding unwillingly in unison.
At least the smell of urine has gone. Just sweaty undercarriage appears to be the aroma of my surroundings. Is that a new fragrance from the magic tree brand?
Oh hold on, we’re stopping to let some dirty, stinky old bastard on the bus. He gets on and pays and the regulars begin to look uncomfortable as his greasy head appears at the top of the stairs. Nobody wants him to sit by them. How to deter someone from sitting by you? I wish I knew. Many a time I have been a victim of picking a seat that has no one else in it only to be trapped, squashed up against the window by some over sized, greasy, smelly bastard. Claustrophobia and suffocation become the norm in this situation and it’s just a matter of luck how far from your destination you are when it happens.
But the bus seating protocol doesn’t help. The unwritten rule that dictates that if you get on a bus, you cannot sit in a seat next to someone if there are other seats with no one sitting in them. If you sit next to someone when there is a completely empty seat nearby, not only do you risk getting a dodgy look from the passenger next to you, perhaps even an annoyed sigh, you also look like a weirdo to the rest of the bus. The only time it is really acceptable to sit next to someone is if you are: A) Elderly, B) On crutches / walking with a limp or, C) There are no completely empty seats.
But in this instance, when you are one of the people already seated, it’s a lottery of who you might get sat next to you. You yourself wouldn’t chose to sit next to someone with that inexcusable poor level of personal hygiene, but then there’s nothing stopping that person from sitting next to you.
On this occasion, I dodged a bullet as Swampy’s dirty bastard uncle decided to sit at the front.
We eventually get to the front of the queue of traffic and sure enough we are on our way. I feel a sense of relief that we are finally moving. I’m checking my watch tentatively every minute or so and I fear that I might be late for work. But we’re not that far. I tell myself to believe. I could just make it.
We hit a red light.
Then the bus pulls over at a bus stop and waits. Why? Why is he doing this? If only I spoke grunt I could go downstairs and ask the driver. Then the bus starts to bounce up and down, up and down. Then the engine is switched off and the bus falls into silence.
Even Tracey and Vicky stop talking about Jamarl cheating on Clarissa as we all wonder what is going on.
Tick, tock, tick, tock, this silence, this stillness is really starting to grind my gears. Not only do I need to get to my destination asap, I’m also desperate to get off this bus and away from these people!
The engine starts, a sense of relief descends on all the passengers (except the semi-conscious, oxygen starved passenger next to Swampy’s uncle) and we commuters along with the tracksuit wearing Network West Midlands staff are once again, on our way.
As we stopped at the next bus stop we were overtaken by another bus on the same route.
The vain in the side of my head almost popped.
A journey that normally takes 20 minutes had taken me almost an hour and a half.
I was late for work.
The lovely smell of sweaty under carriage that had infiltrated my nostrils stayed with me all day.