Why I’ve always been put off by bus travel
No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop thinking that bus travel has no appeal for me.
It starts at the stop (if only it all stopped at the start), where social misfits see me as a kindred spirit and tell me about their cats or their piles.
Sod's Law decrees that the colder and wetter it is, the later the bus will be. Do the drivers wait around the corner, laughing maniacally?
The next unbridled joy is the cheery chit-chat with the driver during the ticket transaction.
With a few exceptions, bus drivers are, in my opinion, among the most monosyllabic people around.
Despite having a public-facing job, they don't seem to want to engage with the public.
Most of the time, I don't even get a word out of them - unless I try to pay with a £10 note. Then I get sighing, harrumphing and swearing under the breath. Oh, sorry mate, I'm paying with money - who'd have seen that coming?
The bus then pulls away before you sit down - meaning a face plant into the ample bosom of the elderly lady next to your target seat.
That's if you can find a seat.
As the journey of joy begins, there is a pot pourri of odours - cheap cologne, sweat, fish sandwiches, lavender and bottom burps.
It all mixes with germs expelled by the habitual hackers and sniffers.
And older people ensure the optimum temperature for germ multiplication by keeping the windows closed at all times.
It's like driving around in a greenhouse. I'm surprised that I haven't grown another 12 inches and ripened.
Finally, the noise...the constant "I was like, he was like" phone conversations of the terminally trivial, the music being played on phones, the tinny irritation of music played through headphones.
Buses can be awful, children are demons - fill in the gaps.
Actually, mayhem on school buses is nothing new.
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I was, of course, a paragon of perfect behaviour when I caught the school bus. All of which adds gravitas to my eye-witness testimony.
I saw and heard:
n the mad dash to get the back seat, and therefore control proceedings
n Moonies being pulled out of the back window
n Juicy Fruit and Wrigley's left on the seats
n Obscene songs being sung
n Children being singled out for being "smelly"
n Fights (usually over football stickers)
n Wounds being inflicted in games of Scabby Queen
n Games of football (yes, really).
School buses have always been feral, fearsome places.
There are simple ways to deal with this, including putting armed soldiers on school buses.
Overreaction, I hear you say. But it'd only take one blank round fired into the air to ensure perfect behaviour.
The seat cleaning bill would be an issue, though.
Alternatively, employ the gorgeous people of Love Island as bud monitors.
The teenage girls would be swooning or admiring the facial slap, while the boys would be too busy blushing to cause trouble.
Another option is for drivers to throw troublemakers off the bus. Unfortunately, the orcs who raise the feral children suddenly come over all bleeding heart if one of them has to walk home.
It's impossible - as it has been for many decades.
Perhaps the best way to avoid the problems on school buses is to walk, run, cycle - or get a later bus?