Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Monday's A Go!

Photo by West Midlands Buses in Photographs

(Apologies.  This is a bit long!) 
A Monday morning with the snow slowly dribbling away underfoot,
a damp mist hovering and clinging,
and we had to make a trip into town to the bank.

I'm still a week away from being allowed to drive after surgery so,
not wanting to trouble folks who've offered us transport
should we need it,
and being of the generation who think taxis an extravagance,
we opted to go by bus.

We were at the stop in time but waited for over half an hour,
and as the two buses which should have come didn't,
we hopped on one going somewhere else,
and re-routed just to get in out of the cold.

Two buses and an hour or so later,
(we did have a cuppa stop),
we reached our destination
having taken just over four times as long as usual.

On the way back we found there have been no buses going our way
for over forty minutes,
but when a bus did come,
rather than leave us to shiver the driver generously 
allowed us all to cram in,
although it was already standing room only.

Jammed together like un-oiled sardines
there was much grumbling, and joking;
comparing details about the length of wait,
and much polite helping one another 
to squeeze further down the bus,
or towards the exit should some unfortunate
need to insinuate themselves between the shopping bags,
bodies, and baby buggy
to get off.

(How DO people give each other a sense of boundaries
whilst pressed against each other,
  swaying and grabbing at anything within reach to stay upright?
It must be in keeping the eyes averted.)

Sure enough a lady in a cheerful red coat warned me
not to look directly at a certain man.
"There's something not right there.
He's apt to be very abusive if you catch his eye."

A muscular young man offered his arm to steady
an elderly lady, 
whilst another used colourful language to regale
anybody within earshot about his trip
to see his probation officer,
and how he needed to get to court
"to iron some things out". 

Fearful of either encouraging him to further familiarity 
or upsetting him by ignoring him,
those near him made vague reciprocal noises while,
yes, avoiding his eye.

Women's voices,
the older fabric of the mini comunity created a 
comforting warp and weft,
"Did you go last night Eileen?"
"I did not..."

"Can you believe I only went into town for
one fancy button for that cardi I'm knitting..."

Next to me a slim young mum with toddler in tow
squashed by my side
and managed to juggle her mobile phone to her ear
and assure a school that she WAS on her way 
to pick up her other child.

Another pale faced young mum jiggled the buggy
with increasing anxiety
as her babe's cries grew more frantic.

And there we were, brought to a halt,
caught in the mess of traffic
and held in some sort of un-wanted intimacy
by a series of road works.

Eventually, windows streaming with condensation,
  we began to inch our way out of the gridlock.

  Tucked into a corner behind the driver I 
saw how after battling to make the exit
from their far from comfortable journey,
at every stop, almost without exception,
despite their haste each passenger turned their head 
to thank the driver.

"Most of the world remains unknown to us.
Most people remain strangers.
This is one of the shocking things about travel;
....we can descend...
right into the middle of an  ongoing life.
...This is the fascination of encounter...
The stranger can bring blessings and encouragement.
...(or) destruction and negativity."
John O'Donohue.

Go Well~Be Blessed

P.S.  In mitigation of West Midlands Transport my daughter who travels on two buses each day to and from work, tells me our experience was unusual; and I think if I'm fit to undergo yesterday I'm more than fit to drive, don't you?

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