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!