Gosh, it’s been a while since I wrote a bus rant, hasn’t it?? That’s one of the upsides of being in a relationship, I guess, the frequent lifts! Sometimes though, I think the fact I’m not catching it as much is more of a curse than a blessing, because my tolerance levels seem to be reduced. I mean, I’m a completely unreasonable old cow at the best of times, but lately it seems those poor, odd people who catch my bus just have to be present to annoy me. In my defence though, it feels a bit like they are actually trying to annoy me so I’m not sure it’s entirely my own fault…
People seem to have a knack, you see, for seeking me out when they feel like talking to a stranger. It’s like they scan the bus for the person who least likely wants to engage in conversation and home in like a heat seeking missile. You know what they say about cats knowing you’re scared of them? Yep. That’s me and bus people. I try everything to give out ‘not interested’ vibes – stare aimlessly out of the window, bury my face in a book, even pretend to sleep in worst case scenarios – but my attempts are usually fruitless. They are determined they WILL talk to me, regardless of whether I want to or not.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just general chit chat (although the general chit chat is a fairly regular occurrence…) Oh no. They seem to have decided I am the ideal person to complain to. I must have the face of someone who gives a crap – but sadly, this is not true! Because they don’t want to complain about the gender pay gap, or third world debt, or the fact that Trump is President of the US – all examples of things I’d happily agree are worthy of a rant and a discussion – they want to complain to me about the world’s most mundane problems. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has zeroed in on me to offload their anger about the fact the traffic is bad, or that the bus was 3 minutes late, or that it’s started raining and they don’t have an umbrella (special mention goes to the lady who kept the whole bus waiting for 20 mins while she disputed the fare, due to the fact ‘it doesn’t cost that much in Luton’ – thanks for that) It’s like they actually think I can do something about it, but the fact is, no-one can!
Case in point, the delightful lady I met a couple of weeks ago, mid heatwave. It was an incredibly sticky day, so of course the bus was not the most hospitable place to be, particularly at rush hour, meaning we had to spend lots of the journey stood still in traffic. We were all a bit too hot – that was a given. This lady though, seemed to think she was the only one suffering in the extreme temperatures. I was already getting irked at the woman in front of me, who kept declaring that she COULDN’T WAIT for Winter GODDAMIT so I wasn’t in the best of moods. I was busy making a mental note of her description in case I had to hunt her down and throttle her in the event of a sudden and unexpected freak snowstorm, when complainer lady boarded and sat next to me, huffing and puffing as though the very act of having make the two second journey to the middle of the bus was just too much to bear. She sat silently for a while – well, I say silently, but the truth is she made a big song and dance about loudly sighing a few times just to make sure everyone was aware she wasn’t happy. Then she started.
‘Does this bus have air conditioning??’ she asked.
I assumed that was both a rhetorical and sarcastic question, because to all present, it was perfectly obvious that, no, this bus did not have air conditioning.
‘I SAID, DOES THIS BUS HAVE AIR CONDITIONING???’ came the voice again, louder this time, and accompanied by an elbow jab to my ribs, which, by the way, is a surefire way of invoking my inner rage. Seriously, don’t do it.
Ah crap, she’s actually asking me! I thought in horror. So I said the only thing I could, which was, ‘Um, I don’t think so, no.’ I hoped that would be the extent of the conversation, and promptly returned to pretending I didn’t know she existed.
I was not expecting a response, so this took me by surprise. I looked around for a second, hoping I’d misheard, or that she was directing at someone else, before replying, ‘I’m sorry, what??‘
‘Why doesn’t this bus have air conditioning?‘ came the reply.
Well, what could I say to that? Did she think I worked for the bus company or something?? ‘Erm, I really don’t know.’
‘Well they should. It’s really hot. Why would you not have air conditioning when it’s really hot?‘
It was obvious at this stage that smiling and nodding and hoping she’d give up was not going to happen. I did think, for a moment, about winding her up by suggesting that would probably make the fares more expensive, but thought better of it. ‘Maybe you should ask the driver?‘ I tried.
SPOILER – she did not ask the driver. She basically chewed my ear off all the way home about how uncomfortable and sweaty she was. It was almost as though she thought it was somehow my fault that this horror had happened to her. Either that, or she just wanted me to be as miserable as she was. All I know is, she kept looking at me expectantly, as though she thought I might have the answer, and I truly don’t know what she was expecting that to be! All. The. Way. Home. Why? WHY?? Why do I look like someone that can solve these problems? Why do they think anyone can solve these problems?? Why don’t they accept that sometimes shit just happens?
Answers on a postcard please!