I sold my car about a year ago – to save money but also to be more environmentally friendly! For the last year I’ve made my way to work either by bus, train, walking or on the odd occasion, cycling. Generally, I quite enjoy the short commute. It certainly beats sitting in a traffic jam or having to leave home an extra hour early so I can guarantee getting a space in the staff car park.
Most days I have my METRO newspaper handed to me as I leave the train, I occasionally buy a coffee, usually a tall-skinny-latte-with-an-extra-shot, and if the reception is good I listen to radio 4 for a bit of culture and watch the same people going about their morning routine.
It’s true, we are creatures of habit and I just love watching people on their way to work. For example, there’s a man with a strange growth in the groin region, who has a lop-sided walk because he has to put all his effort into swinging his leg and the balloon sized growth forward as he walks. He usually stops for a coffee and a paper and I think he works for the Council…
There’s also a lady with a gammy eye that points in an unusual direction who always has a small cappuccino, a croissant, reads the paper and listens to her i-pod, before carrying on with her day. She’s on first name terms with the staff at the coffee place and I’m intrigued to find out where she works. Maybe when I’m a student I’ll follow her.
My worst journeys are almost always on the bus which is usually crammed with people. 7 out of 10 times there’s a drunk man who hasn’t washed for an eternity, a mother with 8 kids all of who don’t know the meaning of ‘SHUDUP YA LIL’ S***!’ and someone having a very loud conversation on their mobile.
I’m usually quite tolerant on the bus but with the added irritation of a bad driver who swings around corners, accelerating in short sharp bursts, throwing the passengers forwards and backwards in unison, my stress levels can reach boiling point.
It never ceases to annoy me when the conductor drives off before the frail old lady, with a walking stick and hunchback can sit down. I regularly find myself holding my breath, poised on the edge of my seat, ready to catch a falling granny (Wonder Woman style) then sighing with relief when she finally sits down.
Do you know what? No matter how queasy I feel or how fast my heart is pumping from screeching around the roundabout on two wheels, I always say ‘Thank You’ to the bus driver! How English! and how polite!