So today I fell victim to the curse of public transport known as the Angry Bus Driver.
I don’t know what it is about bus drivers. I’ve never been one, so I perhaps they just have an incredibly stressful job (who doesn’t?) and don’t get paid enough (who does?) but many of them seem to be ANGRY. Angry at passing motorists, angry at their passengers, angry at life.
Today’s bus driver was all of the above.
There was I, innocently standing at the bus stop, getting on the bus and all of a sudden it was “LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF YEAH? THINK FOR YOURSELF! PUT YOUR HAND OUT! I VERY NEARLY DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO STOP!”
He was still carrying on moaning at me even after I thought he had finished his complaint and retired to the back of the bus, trying not to roll my eyes in a too-obvious Kate Middleton in America wrapping presents, kind of way.
“OK, sorry again.”
“That’s all right darling!” he called out from the front of the bus, as though all he had been looking for was a grovelling apology from me that I had had the BRAZEN AUDACITY to assume that some of the other fifty million people on the bus stop were about to catch the same bus and that the bus might, like, stop or something, rather than ignore all potential passengers as a matter of trying to prove some ridiculous point that we were all lazy benefit scrounging parasites who had the sheer unbridled cheek to stand at a bus stop in the middle of the day and think that it might stop, and that it might be embarrassing, not to mention something of a road hog, if all fifty million people decided to leap in front of the bus eagerly, arms outstretched, at the same time (you know what I’m talking about, people don’t you? It’s either “ALL RIGHT THERE’S NO NEED FOR ALL OF YOU TO PUT YOUR HANDS OUT AT THE SAME TIME I’M GOING TO STOP OK? OK????” or “YOU ARE ALL A BUNCH OF PEASANTS WHO NEED TO PUT YOUR HANDS OUT IF YOU THINK I WILL STOP THIS BUS!!!”)
Anyway, as I seethed with rage quietly at the back of the bus, thinking that this had blatantly happened because I was a woman, and what was this joker doing calling me “darling” anyway, as though I was some sort of family pet, and I am 35 years old and a woman and I AM NOT GOING TO BE PATRONISED DAMMIT, the driver continued venting his rage at anyone who crossed his path. An old man with a stick ( a STICK, I tell you, he was actually mobility impaired) who should “MIND THE DOORS! Don’t get stuck in those doors. You might DIE!”
By the time we were half a mile up the road the driver was taking on a long line of random motorists who dared cross his path (“I’VE GOT A JOB TO DO, YOU KNOW! What am I supposed to do; PARK UP AND WAIT FOR YOU?”) and then aiming his enormous bus at them and forcing them to reverse back up the road.
Now, as I haven’t driven a car since since I failed my driving test in 2005, I’m no expert in The Rules of the Road, but I’m pretty sure he was breaking most of them.
Eventually, I got off the bus, mentally preparing myself for another tirade about how I shouldn’t have got up until the bus stopped, and I could go flying through the windscreen, you know. Or I should have got up before the bus stopped, and I very nearly missed my stop, you know. I wasn’t sure how to play it. Anyway, I got off the bus, only for the driver to apologise for ranting at me, and to then say that the only reason he did it was because he is concerned about females late at night.
Late at night. It was two O’clock in the afternoon and broad daylight.
I looked at him, deadpan. “It’s the middle of the day.”
Ah yes, but one day I might fail to put my hand out when waiting for a bus in the middle of the night and the bus won’t stop and he once heard from a friend of a friend of a friend about someone this happened to who ended up being raped.
“Right,” I replied. “I am an adult. I am capable of looking after myself. And if you are so concerned about females alone at night, why don’t you tell men not to go around raping them?”
The two elderly women who were about to get on the bus and who had only heard the tail end of that conversation looked utterly aghast.
I walked home feeling almost as angry as the bus driver. Not quite, as I didn’t want to end up in an early grave due to the sheer exhaustion of being so angry all the time, but why is it that it is my responsibility (and that of all women) to avoid being raped? I grew up being told by friends, family and everyone in between that I should never walk home alone at night, and that certain areas, due to the mere fact that they were dark and had few buildings, were basically no-go areas at night, just because I was female and MIGHT GET RAPED. Where were the reminders to all the men that they shouldn’t be doing the raping?
Now I’m not advocating getting roaring drunk and going stumbling about alone forgetting all semblance of common sense, but I think that is important advice for members of both sexes, no? And, more importantly, lack of common sense is not an invitation or excuse to rape.
So, Angry Bus Driver, I will be ignoring your advice about waiting for buses (shock, horror) in the hours of darkness, but I will be teaching my son that it is HIS responsibility not to go around raping people (I hope that we will not reach a point where I actually have to spell this out to him in very literal terms, as hopefully basic respect for all people will follow naturally from the upbringing I give him, right people? This will be OK, right?)
I will put my hand out next time though. Just in case it’s Angry Bus Driver again.