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YOU get the bus. Genius.

February 5, 2014

And it happens again!

I’m one of those poor, poor individuals who can’t get in to work for two days running because of these ‘ere tube strikes occurring in London. Why, it just makes me so distraught, I could crack open a bottle of beer and watch golf all day. (Hey, if you wanted a serious response to Transport for London and its various inadequacies, you should have gone here instead.)

I’ve noticed a trend in friends and acquaintances who hear of my plight. I throw my hand dramatically over my eyes and cry “Alas, much as I would love to sit in a room smelling of cheese, surreptitiously checking Facebook, the tube is down. There is a strike. I can’t get in.” They reply with: “What about the bus?”

That, my friends, is not the correct response, unless you are my employer or lecturer or anyone who is in some way relying on me, which happily, no one ever does. The correct response is: “Oh no.”

You see, I have paid for a train ticket. Not a bus ticket. I get trains to and from uni every day. Not buses. I may seem a bit unfocused from time to time, but I assure you my taking of trains is no accident. I purposefully choose them because the train quickly and (sort of) efficiently takes me where I want to be, with a minimum amount of bad smells and noises, stopping and starting and lurching around tight corners, scraping into overgrown trees and narrowly avoiding pensioners. Trains may be more expensive, but that just makes me all the more unwilling to get the bus when I have paid for a train ticket.

Apart from the fact that the bus meanders around all over the place, throwing you from side to side making it impossible to work and causing you to feel queasy, there’s no cretin filter on a bus. It’s cheap, so it won’t contain mostly semi-dignified people in suits. They go everywhere, so it won’t just be people going longer distances using them, thus, it will pick up rantipoles going to school and pubs.

Unlike with a car, neither skill nor friends are required to ride a bus, so somewhat useless or otherwise off-putting people find their way on to them. In short, a bus is a petri dish for all human kind, and people in their infinite variety tend to be alarming from time to time. And I just don’t want to be traveling alone on a bus I’ve never used before, uncertain of the whereabouts of my destination, constantly in fear of the next person who gets on. I know it’s an irrational fear but then, most of them are.

Plus, I’m a person who very much belongs on such a bus – I know people riding on trains would pay extra to avoid the likes of me, which makes it all the more delicious when I sit down next to them and spread my papers out over their knees, staring soulfully into the eyes of the stranger opposite as she eats her banana.

And those bus drivers, they’re a miserable bunch, aren’t they? The whole thing’s become a completely silent process:


Bus driver: O_O

That’s not a shocked face from me walking up to him and saying “beep”, by the way. That’s the zombie-eyed “I-haven’t-been-sleeping-so-well-and-I’m-not-being-paid-enough” stare they make when I touch my Oyster card to the reader.

Not that the train drivers are much better. In fact, I wrote a poem about it, which was published in some obscure little anthology thing which will since have disappeared off the face of the earth.


I named it “Bound for Glory” as in “This Train is Bound for Glory”, an old gospel song that we used to sing with our bland little white voices at my bland little white primary school. This title choice of course means that I can never find the bleeding thing in my work folders because I’m looking for the word “train”.

Bound for Glory

Thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For that lacklustre morning greeting
Your lugubrious voice through the tannoy
Warms me like central heating.

Thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For taking the time out
To mutter incomprehensibly
(Or on a happy day, to shout).

Thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For offering your assistance
If a fire breaks out in carriage eight
I’ll be at your door in an instant!

And thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For showing up on time
Since if you’re not there, apparently
They must close down the line.

Thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For asking me to Please,
Be patient of the train delays
Caused by fallen trees.

Thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For your professional honesty
When you inform me of severe delays
Due to fatality.

Oh, thank you, Mr. Train Guard
How it must cause you pain
To know we shall all be a full hour late
Because of a bit of rain.

Thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For your sincere apology
When I’m late for the umpteenth time and fired
What a comfort that will be!

No, thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For, again, describing how
When the light changes, we’ll be moving –
Any minute, now…

Thank you, Mr. Train Guard
I can tell that you are bored
You could have been a fireman;
Job satisfaction assured!

Yes, thank you, Mr. Train Guard
For thoroughly explaining
Every piddling reason why
London rail is failing.

Happy anniversary, strikers! Have a good one.


From → British Culture

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