I finish work at 5:30pm. The bus from work to town turns up anytime between then and 6pm. When I get to town, it’s a short walk to the stop that has buses to take me to my house in around 5 minutes. Now, this part normally has me either dashing for a bus that is at the stop or a wait of anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes. An average trip will have me strolling in the front door between 6-6:10 in summer and 6:10-6:20 in winter.
Today, that was not the case. In total, it took me an hour and a half to get home from work. As I made my way up the stairs to my flat, my knees and hips were stiff and painful and a throbbing pain was gnawing at my lower-back. I was a tad grumpy (no news there, I hear you say), but it wasn’t because of the cold – no sir – it was because of the general public.
Apparently, when buses delayed, all common decency and queue forming goes out of the window and it’s a free for all on who gets on when. First to the stop first on no longer applies, and humanity devolves to its truest form; self-preservation trumps all. I was jostled in the “queue” and numerous people pushed ahead of the very old, the very young, and the infirm. It was actually quite disgusting to watch.
When I finally did get on the bus to go home (at 6:50, I might add), I was packed on like a sardine and breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t mind standing if it meant that old lady could sit down, or that kid was safe, or that lady had hands free to cough into, rather than the open air while she was clinging to the rail. I was perfectly happy to just be on my way home. Then I heard the murmurs begin.
“…First buses… useless…”
“… bunch of f…ing idiots…”
I winced. After spending four years working for a retail company and being a hybrid of sales and customer service, I was getting flashbacks to unhappy customers. The murmuring got louder and soon enough, people who would normally be content to ignore each other until it was their stop, were discussing the sheer audacity of the bus company and their lateness.
I couldn’t help a pained smile appearing on my face (which received a few funny looks) as one very loud lady stated how she was going to take this to the company on Twitter. I felt like saying to her “Yes, because whining at the poor staff on Twitter is going to improve your life drastically, and they’re going to be able to do something for you right this instant, as you’re on your way home, while there are still people left stranded at the stop we just left.” But I didn’t say anything, as I would have an entire buses worth of angry people baying for my blood. The poor staff who definitely won’t get paid enough to put up with irate customers on Twitter will have been inundated with complaints all evening from everyone and their cousin, without the actual power to do anything but apologise and move on.
While I’m happy that the collective misfortune brought all of these people together and gave them something to talk about, I’m sad to think that they’re all probably going to go home and lodge complaints against the bus company when in fact, First likely had absolutely no power over anything that happened tonight, and it should be the city council that people are complaining to, as roadworks and the poor planning around the new shopping center is most likely to be the cause of all this congestion.
Fast forward to me creaking my way up the stairs to my flat, and I pull off my coat and boots and leave them in a pile on the bed (I’ll put them away later) and walk into the living room. I’m hit with a wall of warm air, the smell of cooking steak pie and candles mingling in the room. Then I spy a steaming cup of tea. And then my hot water bottle wrapped in my dressing gown, and all is good with the world again.