Tag Archives: buses

Shoes hold the key to the answer

Bus travel has never been a favourite pastime of mine, but of late it has become a necessity to get me to work and back (see  Good Manners ).  Whilst other commuters are sitting in their cars during the busy rush hour, tooting their horns, stuck in traffic queues obviously rushing nowhere, I have rediscovered my love of reading.  I can sit back on the bus travelling along in the bus lane passing all those grumpy motorists and immerse myself in another world through the written word.

I admit that I am easily distracted and it does take an awful lot of concentration on my part to remain focussed on the page in question.  An example to illustrate this would be; yesterday morning, the bus had stopped at the bus stop (oddly enough), several people got on and the doors closed behind them.  As the bus was pulling away a young man knocked on the door.  The driver looked across at him and continued to pull away.  Now it wasn’t the knock that caught my attention, that would have been understandable and indeed to an extent acceptable, but as I had already watched the three or four people board the bus, pay their fare and take their place standing in the aisle, I suspect my attention had already roamed.

I do get quite annoyed at myself for being so nosey and particularly at the moment as I am nearing the end of the novel, which I would like to finish and don’t get me wrong it is rather good.  I did therefore whilst waiting for the bus for my return journey in the evening promise myself I would make a real effort to concentrate.

So, I sat on the bus, got myself comfortable and retrieved my book from my bag.  Opened the page and started to read.  Before I knew it we were a good while into the journey and I hadn’t been distracted once – that was until a rather large lady came and sat next to me. 

Now I don’t wish to be unfair, I appreciate the seats are quite small and even for someone of a slight build like myself, they are, well shall we say snug.  Fair enough.  However, I do take exception to those who think that they have a right to plonk themselves down next to you with a complete disregard about someone else’s personal space and comfort.  The lady in question sat herself down to the right of me and her left hand side of her body was physically covering the right hand side of mine.  I was pinned to the seat.  Aside from the fact that this was annoying and quite rude, it was exceptionally constrictive.  I found myself unable to breathe let alone turn the page in my book.  Anyhow, after a little huffing and puffing, and some clever re-positioning, I was able to squish myself into a corner of the bus seat, resembling something similar to a contortionist and I blocked out any further negative thoughts and carried on with the task in hand – reading my book.

Several minutes passed and I was back into the storyline.  At which point the lady said quite out of the blue, “what time does Currys close?”  Now for those of you who don’t know, Currys is a large electrical retailer which is based out of town in the opposite direction to the one we were currently travelling in.

“Er, I have no idea, but these stores tend to stay open until about 8pm.”  End of conversation?  I hope so.

A few turns of the pages later – “Dongles.”

Ignore her she might just be saying random words to anyone who’s listening.

“Dongles.  Have you heard of them?  Do you know what they are?”

Oh my goodness me.  I have attracted the nutter on the bus, I thought these people were a thing of the past!

“Do you know how dongles work?”  Well ten out of ten for persistency.

“A little.”  Was my polite response with fingers firmly crossed and eyes never leaving the page hoping against hope that she would glean enough from my body language that I did not wish to engage in this technological chit chat.

It didn’t work, as deep down I didn’t expect it would.  For some reason, people who do not read seem to think that they can hold a conversation with someone who is blatantly keeping themselves to themselves and do not wish to engage.  There was nothing for it.  I briefly explained what I understand the workings of a dongle to be and how she would be able to browse the internet through an internet service provider of her choice and ‘top up’ her usage as and when she required it.

“Oh.” [Blank look] “No shoes?”

Now I admit it, this totally lost me and at this point I felt the need to ask her to quantify this bizarre statement.  She had got me hooked.  The plot in the book now a distant memory.  How on earth was I meant to concentrate?

The lady gestured her rather large arm in the direction of someone further down the vehicle and almost took someone out who was walking down the aisle of the bus to alight.  “Is that the fashion these days?  Oh I don’t understand young trends.  Maybe that is what I should do.  Maybe then I will understand everything else.”

With this she got up and got off the bus.  What can I say?  I wanted to take my shoes off to see if it gave me any enlightenment!

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Mini Rants #1 – A selection

Have you ever considered during the course of a waking day just how much there is out there to irritate you? Maybe it hadn’t crossed your mind.  It hadn’t mine until today.  I thought I would provide you with just a selection of thought provoking instances that happened to me today.  I offer a suggestion that you will agree with at least one of them.

1.   Last piece of paper

The first annoyance of the day, less than five minutes after I got up and out of bed.  A trip to the bathroom and just at the point of no return, a realisation that there is only one sheet of toilet tissue left on the roll with the replacement rolls stored in the cupboard across the way.  Who in their right mind leaves one sheet of paper for the next person?  What purpose does it serve exactly?  I won’t go into further detail on this one.

2.   Bus Fares

At what point does it come as a shock to someone waiting at a bus stop that they will at some point have to pay for their fare? 

The bus was running at least five minutes late this morning, so anyone waiting will have had plenty of time to prepare themselves for its impending arrival, but no.  I didn’t just count one I counted three people who, once boarding the bus, then had to rifle around in their handbag to locate their purse.  Once found, they then had to seek to produce the money.  Fumbling around to gather their change, they seemed to think it appropriate to strike up a conversation with the driver.

“Ooh aren’t these coins so fiddly? If you wait a minute I’ll get the change exactly right for you.  I bet you get this all this time don’t you”, and other such inane drivel.  Do they not realise that the bus is running to a timed schedule and can they not hear the rest of the passengers grumbling their discontent?

3.   Cash machines

I know there are various elements of the ATMs, cash machines, holes in the wall whatever you choose to call them that irk some people.  The one thing that really gets me annoyed is waiting an incessantly long time for my turn even when there are only two people in front of me in the queue.  No matter how long I think about it and believe me I had more than long enough time standing in line today, I simply cannot fathom what on earth people find to do at them that takes so long. 

This may be going a bit far, but I did actually time myself today: insert card; wait for machine to register card; enter pin number; request balance; select another service i.e. cash; enter cash amount required; retrieve card; await cash; await receipt.  Job done and all with a total time of 48 seconds.

4.   Wrongly labelled shelves

At lunchtime I made a quick dash into the supermarket.  I only wanted a large bottle of lemonade, but got slightly distracted by one of their Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) offers.  I fell for it and bought the product(s). 

Once I got to the self service checkout (mini rant on its way) I noticed that the special offer had not been deducted.  Luckily there was an assistant nearby who, eventually offered her help.  Upon her return she advised me that the label DIRECTLY BENEATH said item was for another brand situated further up the shelf!  I declined the product.  It was only because I only had one other item that I noticed.  If this had formed part of my regular weekly shop, they would have got away with charging me full price for 2 items that I didn’t actually want or need in the first place and I wouldn’t have noticed.

5.   Self service checkouts

Since when did these save time?  Save time for whom?  The way I see it is that they save time in recruiting new staff members.  They have never saved me time.

Take today for example.  I had 3 items.  I wanted to place them directly into my bag once I had scanned them.  The bag which is placed over my shoulder has to be removed and placed on the special bag platform on the checkout.  An additional unnecessary manoeuvre which added time to the process.  The items (as mentioned above) were not showing the price I expected.  I pressed the cancel button, re-scanned, found myself questioning the machine – I did, I actually said, “so what happens – do you deduct the offer price when I proceed to pay?”  It didn’t answer.  The lady behind the till would have done. 

There is a time and a place for these items.  My life is not the time – where I go is not the place!

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Good Manners

Whatever happened to good manners?  I always thought the Brits were renowned for having the good grace to join the end of a queue and then wait for their turn.  It seems that ‘the end’ is now to be interpreted to mean the front, except nobody has told me that. 

Just to give you a bit of a background to this rant. I have now become what I consider to be a seasoned traveller on the ‘peasant wagon’, or ‘bus’ as it is more commonly known.  I never really was a big fan of public transport due to my past experiences of them, albeit quite infrequently.  I found them extremely unreliable, not particularly good value for money and well, dirty, cold and smelly.

My travelling habits were recently changed due to a number of contributing factors ie. my office base changed location and was now at the other end of town, but the cheap car parking was where I used to work some 20 minutes walk away; my car was vandalised by some delightful yobs; I could come and go as I please without having to wait at the bus driver’s convenience; and of course, recent petrol price increases.  So, faced with dark nights, long walks to the car, and not knowing what I would find when I did reach my car, and the bus fares being considerably cheaper – it was a no brainer.

So, after initial hiccups of not knowing what times the buses were supposed to turn up, I soon became wise to the ones that invariably didn’t and now I am pretty confident that I have got it sorted.  That is, all apart from one of my major bugbears.  People pushing in front of me in the queue!

I am not one for waiting at the bus stop for an incessantly stupid amount of time – if the bus is due at 7:10am, I am generally at the stop at around 7:07am awaiting it’s (rather punctual, I have to say) scheduled arrival.  Pretty accurate timings I know, but you will come to realise as you read more rants that I am pretty much a precise kind of person.

So, why is it that I carry out my research in order for me to waste as little time in my life as possible, just so that someone can come along and quite without any regard, push in and devalue my precious time on this earth?  Does this make sense or is it just me?  I think for someone to turn up at the very last second, push in and secure, what sometimes is the last seat on the bus, whilst leaving me to stand is a complete and arrogant disregard of how important someone else’s life is.  I appreciate that some of you may consider this to be an overly exaggerated view, but I suspect there are many who will agree with me. 

The perpetrator is very clever though, I have to give him that.  He has a friend at the stop that he joins every morning.  I say friend, I use this term very loosely.  He turns up, joins her in her place in the queue, stands with her and chats for a nano-second until the bus comes, gets on the bus with her, and then sits anywhere but next to her!  Crafty ploy.

Now as I see it, I have three solutions to my dilemma.  The first one is that I could get to the bus stop before this chap’s friend, so consequently, he would be behind me in the queue.   Now, the drawback as I see it is that this is against my very ethos of making the most of my precious life and not wasting time.  Bearing in mind that she is at the bus stop at least ten minutes before the bus is due (I know this through my initial investigation into the timings in the early days) then I would be wasting a considerable amount of my life.

The second one would be to make friends with her.  I have no desire to.  End of.

The third?  Well, I could say something to the perpetrator.  However, I suspect he has no manners and no conscience and would make me feel petty and churlish, so I would rather raise my blood pressure until such time as this, when I am able to vent my anger in writing!

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