Thursday, 3 December 2009

White Knuckle Ride.

The journey to work can be fraught with danger. Take the other day for example, our driver was somewhat heavy footed on the breaks, we took a couple of curbs on rails narrowly missing a cyclist and an elderly couple on the zebra crossing. Passengers were rocked from side to side involuntarily introducing themselves to one another by sheer force of body contact. Laughing nervously you find yourself nodding to regular faces with raised eyebrows wondering if today will be the day when you can make a genuine call of emergency and let the boss know that you might be a tad late.

I've had some ding dongs with drivers in the past over the shifting price of fares, one day it's this another that depending on who's behind the wheel and the time on the clock. 'Jobsworth' doesn't nearly cover the colourful rants rushing through my brain at moments such as these.

Last winter we had heavy snow, heavy for us you understand before you start cramming my comment box with feet and inches of personal experience. I left the house ready for action, kitted out in boots, hat, heavy weather coat, the works. The bus arrived straight away. 'Hero,' came to mind as I paid yet another differing amount to the smiling elderly driver I recognised as being one of the good guys. I sat down to the background noise of muffled mobile conversations relaying information about how late the bus was and would be. On time for me, an hour and half late for them I realised. Another hour passed and we hadn't moved much further than a couple of miles, things were beginning to look pretty bad and people were growing anxious. I made my call and contemplated my next move.

The driver took a call on his phone, it wasn't good news, he'd been ordered to turn back. People complained to him and each other, some got off, some refused to get off, women sat chewing their lips.

' If you wanna get to the city, I'll take you, if not jump off and another bus'll pick you up heading the other way. There's still a few of us on the road trying to make it in,' he announced with a hint of war time spirit.

Some stayed, I baled being nearer home than work. I looked at his lined face and crinkled eyes as I reached the exit and he grinned at me which left me concerned for his well being.

'Will you be OK?' I enquired.

'Don't you worry about me love, you get yourself home, alright?'

I didn't want to leave him then just in case but his grin widened, I suspect out of enjoyment for the drama he'd found himself in. I remember watching his tail lights inch bravely onwards through the snow.

A few of us were picked up on the way back by a lone vision of yellow ploughing it's way courageously across the moor road. Like survivors in a disaster movie we flagged him down with exaggerated relief, anyone and everyone got on and the driver didn't ask for money or passes, he just waved us into the bus and crawled on searching for more stranded, displaced victims.

I've flagged the old boy down a few times over recent months and he always smiles when he sees it's me, we have become comrades in arms. Last week I saw him twice and he wouldn't allow me to pay at all.

'Snow'll be 'ere soon,' he nods at the sky grinning.

'Hope not,' is my response laughing at his childlike anticipation.

There's been other adventures since and more wranglings over the price of a journey but I'd rather pay up than take the car any day. You never know what's going to happen when you get on the yellow bus, from unannounced diversions taking you on a mystery tour, to strangers becoming friends for life just because they were there at the time. In the end it's the thrill of the ride that counts more than the destination and I wouldn't have it any other way.

10 comments:

  1. I love this post ! Nice work. I have a few just like your bus driver, here, where I'm from. Has yet to snow ... but I'm ready !!

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  2. Hello Patrick and thanks for your commets. I enjoyed writing this one, it came as light relief from working hard on other things.

    I've been catching up with your blog from time to time and love hearing about your aunt and Christmas. I do wish I could comment directly but I understand the reasoning behind your decision.

    Thanks again, always a pleasure to see you here.

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  3. Nice post. All the material we need is always right around us, eh?

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  4. Yes they are Brad, sometimes we see them and sometimes...

    You have the look of a Romantic hero about you in that picture Brad, like some born again Lord Byron.

    Ta ta.

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  5. You often put up short pieces here that show, as does this one, that your literary talents are in characterization, more than scene, which is the basis on which good theater is produced. Think about it.

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  6. I was just reading through the 'Audience Booked By' labels when I saw your comment Don and I agree that this is where my strength lies. It is an area I have been working hard to improve upon more recently.

    Thanks, as always, for your continued support.

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  7. I've been reading your comments over at Donigan's blog for a while, so I thought I'd stop by. I liked this post! Here in Mexico the bus drivers have somewhat of a sport going, to see if they can pull away from the curb with enough force to knock you down, before you can make it to your seat. They do this even when the passenger is Mexican, and 90 years old, which always surprises me.

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  8. Hello Rose and welcome to the box office.

    I love taking the bus whether at home or abroad. Greece in particular is a favourite with us when it comes to getting as many people and live stock on board as possible rather than leave anyone behind. Over here in the UK we are very sedate and yes, we do queue which I know is something of a joke to our American and European cousins but there we are.

    It is lovely of you to pop in and I shall of course return the compliment. Now, would you like a cup of tea with one lump or two...?

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  9. Hmmm. I am one of those sad individuals who usually goes for a chemical sachet, of the stuff that causes cancer in laboratory rats. And kinda prefer coffee.... Can I still stay??

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  10. We serve all kinds of beverages here, coffee it is then.

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