Topic: A day in the life of SteelyDan
No, not the real Steely Dan! That would be exciting wouldn't it? No, I'm just named after my favourite American AOR band. And I'm also called Dan Steel, which really fits.
Anyway, the last few months I’ve had to get used to getting the bus at least twice a day for at least five days a week. Back in October when I first started working again after a two year layoff for repetitive strain injury, I didn’t mind hopping on the bus at the end of the road in the morning, but slowly and surely over the last three months or so, it has drained every bit of energy I have. The majority of the time, the bus into work at half seven is the worst part of my day. The opposite route on the way home is normally time for me to catch up on a bit of nap time–nap time was a crucial aspect of my life before I started working life again and I miss it dearly.
Anyway why I’m writing this post is because I spend at least an hour and a half a day on the 145 from the end of my road into the High Street - the last stop. Here are just a few of the experiences that I come across on a regular and irregular basis:
First of all I always sit in the same seat on the way home. On the way in, I don’t normally have a choice in terms of seats so I take what I get. On the home route I always sit in the same spot upstairs, perfect angle to rest my head against the window without too much vibration. It is also necessary to bring a hat/scarf that can be used as a headrest, to which you can get a bit of comfort while trying to catch a few zzz’s. Another plus of being on the bus first is that you don’t get stuck with sitting beside someone who takes over the majority of the seat. When this happens you are susceptible to getting ‘numb arse’ as you have to do your best to fit your arse on the edge of the seat, due to some overweight selfish person.
In terms of sleeping on the way home, its gotten to the stage where I can subconsciously count the stops while I’m sleeping so that I don’t miss my stop. This is a sort of game with myself, the fear of missing my stop always making sure that I cheat, and have a sly look out normally 2/3 stops away from the finish line.
One of the WORST things about the bus is the squeeze getting off when the bus is packed which it normally is at 6 o’clock. You might or might not know, but I’m a pretty skinny chap and I can’t comprehend being fat in these situations, due to the narrowness of the corridor especially when it is filled with students and school kids alike. I would say there have been a few questionable wondering hands in these situations, and it is a perverts dream. It seems that the brains behind the local buses have tried to remedy this, with the fancy new buses rolled out circa November 2012, having that exit in the middle of the bus, which solves this problem. A for Effort!
A positive aspect of getting the bus is the odd eaves dropping conversation that you encounter. My highlight eaves dropping in this sense was when I encountered a chav who had just been released from prison. He was with his partner who was in a similar heroin hit state as himself. Drama ensued as our freed criminal realised that he had lost his mobile phone, blaming his partner for taking it. She took huge exception to this, which ended up in a full blown roaring match at each other. £2.15 for this type of entertainment is a bargain, however I don’t think the elderly contingent thought the same. It ended amicably though, as he came to accept his loss and she redeemed herself by giving him half of her cheese roll. Fair play.
One of the main things that grinds my gears on the bus, is when you find yourself sitting against the window beside some punter, and as the bus clears out, the lad beside you refuses to move to any free double seats. This really bothers me, and I tend to get frustrated and borderline closterphobic (spelling?). It seems to be the middle aged/elderly generation that tend not to see the benefits of having that bit more space, and I guess this can be put down to their laziness, dementia etc. If it is the younger generation like myself, who refuse to move, I believe that this shows a distinct lack of initiative in both bus living and life as a whole. Id imagine these are the same people who will be bashing numbers on a computer for the rest of their lives.
In terms of the excitement levels of getting the bus home, this normally reaches it’s peak as I eagerly await who is going to sit beside me. There is always some hope that some bronzed goddess is going to be my co-pilot but as of yet, this has yet to occur. Normally it’s either some idiot or some old fart who stinks. A few weeks ago an elderly lady sat beside me, and decided that the bus would be a good place to start knitting a scarf. Knitting is one thing, but knitting on the bus in a confined space is something. At every bump/stop she would pause her elbow bashing of me and then resume once the bus was rolling again.
The Random Girl- give or take a few days, there is this random girl on the 145 who gets on and gets off the exact same stop. The funny thing is, of those of you that know me, I’d be a fairly friendly chap, at times too over friendly, but the thing is with this girl there is no acknowledgement whatsoever. It’s gotten to the stage where I’d be going out of my way to catch her eye, but to date there has been no communication between us. Maybe her awareness is just not as good as mine.
I once sat on the bus beside someone with tourettes. This was definitely the oddest bus journey I’ve ever had. I went upstairs and sat at the front beside this girl, who almost immediately after sitting beside her, I realised she had a serious case of the ‘Fuck,Shites’. I don’t know why exactly I didn’t move straight away, probably because I thought that people would think I was a bit of a insensitive dick. So, I did my best to sit there and pretend to be looking straight ahead, too afraid to even take out my phone in case she took exception to it. It was a scary and strange scenario as the girl repeatedly shouted and cursed at her mum who wasn’t there. I got off two stops early.
The bus in the morning time can be a depressing experience, especailly a Monday morning when you’ve had a rough weekend on the beer. I was made aware by my friend Kev that there is no need for conversations or short talk on the morning bus ride, even when you find yourself sitting beside an old pal who you havn’t seen for awhile. I learnt this the hard way, when Kev gave me the cold shoulder on a Wednesday morning, but as my bus experience has risen, I now completely agree with this tactic and I have become an avid user of it. Early morning, tired head, ear phones in with my favourite James Lavelle mix – no need for strained conversation about the weekend past or weekend to come. There are other more appropriate times to communicate and bus chat at best is fragmented and fake. Kev, I noticed has become a master of his own tactic, headphones in, book in hand and eyes either straight ahead or to the ground. It is a manner I aspire to master.
These are my experiences, and aspects of bus life that have hit me over the first few months of returning to the double deckers. Now the best thing for me is that I havn’t actually paid for the bus in four months because I have this bus and rail pass that has no dates on it. This means that for the last four months and counting I have saved at least £300. Not a bad return considering the rising cost of getting the bus….that’s all for now folks.