For the first time in months, I was on a bus today. I returned to an old staple of common-person travel, the 75 bus to Milton. Walking to the stop, I saw the bus sitting there, unable to leave because of traffic build-up. “A ha”, I thought, “my chariot awaits”. So I run for it, the wind in my hair, my fare happily jingling away in my pocket. I reach the door and give it a knock. The bus driver shakes his head and ignores me. Arsehole. I stand there, staring impotently. He continues to act as if I do not exist. I stand longer, sodden from the rain, my lip trembling. After many awkward seconds, he escapes the traffic jam and drives away.
Ten minutes later a second bus arrives. With great kindness and benevolence, this driver lets me on. He even lets me sit down, a privilege I pay a mere £1.75 for. Other passengers push by me, forcing themselves through the crowd of commuters. Some complain about how full the bus is. Understandable, you would think. But this is a double decker bus. There are many empty seats upstairs. So most of these people are either too lazy to climb the stairs to reach all of the empty seats above, or are too stupid to realise that another deck exists. Maybe they think that the stairs actually reach to heaven. They’ve decided that, no, they’re not ready to leave this world yet. They must think that I’m another suicide case, paying £1.75 so that I can move on to the everafter.
Upstairs, it’s not really like heaven. As I walk through, a bespectacled teenager inspects me. A look of sheer stupidity on his face, clearly honed by years of staring at things, being confused by many of them, and not having the self-awareness to realise that people can see him right back. His face screws up, not in anger, but as a sign that his brain is doing something, and that is a rare occurrence. Something about me is clearly registering as ill-fitting in this Possil-Milton travel dynamic. Maybe it’s my lack of tracksuit. Maybe it’s my lack of required haircut, my not having every single fringe-hair gelled and perfectly aligned. My barren forehead clearly not meeting the requirements of the bam army. Maybe it’s simply that my face is stupid and wrong. Regardless of the reason, he continues to stare, which makes him look all the more idiotic.
For the remainder of the journey he does nothing to discredit this impression. He rubs his fingers on the bus windows, which are wet with condensation. This rubbing makes a squeaking noise. He, of course, finds this hilarious. This continues for fifteen or twenty minutes. The windows make a noise, he makes a noise. Every squeak brings another lol. He is having the best time of his life. He must be at least fifteen years old.
This is the world that you created.