“Oh no,” I thought, as I watched the bus driver struggling to give the lady the correct ticket. I had got on the bus (the now famous 14a from previous postings) a few stops earlier, and had noticed the bus driver was a little less than confident… What was it that clued me in, I wonder? Was it the fact that he asked me rather than told me my fare? Or was it the fact that we slowed down before each junction/roundabout so that the whole bus could shout “right!”, “left!”, etc…?* Anyway, I’m getting distracted!
“Oh no,” I thought, as I watched the bus driver struggling to give the lady the correct ticket. (Yes, that was how I was going to start…) Five minutes later, as he was still struggling, I was less predisposed to feeling sorry for him, and was looking at my watch, concerned I would miss my train. Just as a man plonked himself next to me. So much next to me, in fact, that I think we overlapped slightly.
“Fucking ridiculous, mate.”
“Er, yes.” I assumed he was talking to me, so I talked back. Mistake.
“This wouldn’t be tolerated in London.”
“Oh, right. You, er, from London then?”
“Yeah, seriously. Fucking hell. People would be going mental by now. Screaming and shouting.”
“Well, people there are very busy and important.” Perhaps this was the wrong thing to say, as he gave me the are-you-taking-the-piss look.
“Why is he bothering?” the man continued. “It’s not as if an inspector is going to come and check!”
“He is possibly wanting to get it right?” I (naively) observed.
“Well it didn’t work, because I just pushed past and didn’t pay.”
I paused. “Um, well done?”
“Huh, yeah, and another thing. If you get on the number 16 from here, it actually goes a different way. The distance is shorter but… get this… the fare is more!” He looked excited by this, showing an above average grasp of Leicester’s public transport system for a Londoner.
Me: “Mmm. Good grief. That is… unusual.” I swapped “uninteresting” at the last minute – good old reflexes.
“It reminds me a bit of the CSA.”
This had me a bit confused. “Er, I thought they were the Child Support Agency.”
“Yeah. Bastards. The thing is, what if the man earns, like, £100,000 and the mother is on, you know, benefits, and they still say ‘you have to pay your 15%’ without thinking that the man might have some questions about why he is paying for her to sit on her arse. I mean why, why, would he do that?”
“Er, I suppose to make sure his child was provided for?”
This is the bit where he stared at me.
“Oh look, here’s my stop,” I said, climbing out onto a completely unrecognisable street.
I love random anecdotes. This one is actually responsible for pushing the story of how I nearly got arrested at Spanish customs to another day. So there’s something to look forward to.
* this was in itself an incredibly amusing experience, and well worth a post by itself, but sadly this is not to be!