Monday, 21 June 2010

On the Buses

Dear readers where to begin the apologises? I don’t know, so I won’t belabour it. Soz.

Right so last we spake, I was about to become employed. Well, 2 months later I am still employed- yippee! My job is perfectly pleasant, the people perfectly pleasant and the 9 to 5 (or precisely 8:45- 4:45 due to my bus) lifestyle is suiting me, well perfectly. And long may that continue. I don’t really want to dwell too much on my job for confidentially reasons- what I do is basically convert written notes to numeric code so the information can be collated by some organisation to turn into statistics to do well, something important I guess and also apparently there was a previous employee who wrote a detailed and disparaging blog about life at the office and got fired. I think there may have been other issues too, but you know I don’t want to tempt fate. 7 months people, 7 months and with the emergency budget coming out tomorrow the likelihood of anyone getting a job or benefits is going to shrink to about nothing so I’m not going to do anything that might jeopardise my nice new stress free job.

However, I can talk about my bus. Any of you who have known me for any length of time may be aware of my personal dislike of public transport or to be more honest the people on public transport. In fact as a teenager I would whole heartedly avoid going on buses if I could possibly avoid it and the event of getting my first car Evita was one filled with great joy. After 6 months of car-lessness in my new city, the begetting of my 2nd car Simone was even more joyful despite, let’s be honest, one doesn’t really need a car in Edinburgh. This statement can be countered by the fact that in about 2 weeks time my mother is about to move to a slightly remote (certainly by public transport standards) house with her fancy man and getting to and from there without a car would be tricky.

Anyway back to the topic in hand, my bus. I work in the New Royal, but live in Leith, the top of Leith to be more precise. The great problem with this is that despite the distance from my flat to the hospital only being a little over 4 miles, it takes approximately 40 minutes to get to work every day. This is because there is only one direct bus to and from Leith to the hospital and it goes right through the centre of town. Why not drive I hear you say? You could go via Holyrood Park thus avoiding the traffic and get to work in about half the time (this is what you would say if you knew the geographical layout of Edinburgh, but not the following facts)? Well, dear hearts this is because parking costs £7 a day at the New Royal. Yes, I say again SEVEN pounds. If I work a fulltime month this would add to £140/month plus the cost of petrol. The bus however costs £42 pounds a month for limitless amount of trips. I have a special card with a particularly smug picture of me on it that makes this possible. It is truly a wonderful thing not to scrabble around looking for change in the morning and it works out as £2.10/day if I only use it for work and when you divide it by the all the additional trips I can use it for the actually daily amount reduces considerably.

Hmmm, that has turned into a bit of rant what I was actually going to talk about were the people on my bus. Right as I was saying, it is the only direct bus from Leith to the hospital and Leith being a pleasant, but affordable part of the city centre is a popular choice for commuters. As such it always rammed full. It is only a single decker bus, something which I cannot understand as I more often than not do not get a seat for about the first 15 minutes. I notice that there are a few people that get the bus everyday as I do. I have decided to describe them to you so you can get a flavour what greets me every working day.

· Thin Puck- he is a young fellow who gets on the bus the same stop as me Tues- Friday who looks just like a thin version of Puck from the popular new smash hit TV series Glee. He even has a near Mohican like hairstyle. He is rather slim and tanned and he almost never sits down. Even if there are seats he usually stands for the duration of the bus journey and most likely beyond as he does not get off at the hospital (where he does go, I do not know). Very occasionally if the individual seats at the front of the bus are free he will sit in them, but I have never seen him sit on a double seat. Does he fear someone will sit next to him? If so why? What has happened to Thin Puck to make him so afraid of sitting on the bus and instead stand for over 40 minutes every morning? Poor Thin Puck.

· Bossy baggage couple- they are young Eastern European couple who are always on the bus before me, but are not present every day. The female of the coupling is the one I refer to as bossy. As seats are few, I have noticed she always sits in a free seat before the chap; however they always seem to have an extraordinary amount of baggage with them, which he has to shoulder despite her being seated. There are usually 2 rucksacks and several filled to capacity carrier bags (with what I have not yet discerned). When they speak, she seems to be telling him to do certain things and he always looks a little sheepish. They get off at the hospital, but I do not know where they go.

· Bakery lady- this woman works in Gregg’s. I know this because she wears the uniform on the bus. She always seems in a pleasant mood. Gregg’s must be a nice place to work.

· Bedraggled doctor- one stop after I get on, a young Asian woman gets on the bus. Despite the bus being consistently busy, she always looks so disappointed when she doesn’t get a seat. I have concluded she is junior doctor as she always looks exhausted, carries a large rucksack containing books and gets off at the hospital. She must be disappointed that she doesn’t get a seat straight away as one suspects that getting a seat on the bus is the highlight of what is about to turn out to be a very exhausting day. She looks smart enough, but on closer inspection you can see her trousers are too loose for her meaning they used to fit her but the pressures of long shifts and continual stress have cause her to lose weight, her shirts are not ironed and her hair is always in disarray (I can only imagine she pulls it back with a hair band before commencing her work). I always feel sorry for bedraggled doctor. I used to be her.

· The Wet Granny- the Wet Granny gets her name from a very disturbing incident which made me first notice her presence. It was a particularly rainy day one Wednesday morning and after my usual stand I was relieved to get a seat even if it was one of a series of the pulley down seats that runs along the side of the bus. About half way through my journey an elderly woman came on the bus wearing a hugely enormous woollen poncho which due to rain was quite damp. She grabbed the free newspaper, pulled down the seat next to me and then sat on me. Now I know I am not large, but I would have thought that my presence would register, but clearly not to the Wet Granny who sat half on her own seat and half on me. I then would have thought on realising her error, she then would have shifted her mass to be fully on her seat, but no she continued to sit on me, covering me in wet woollen poncho and crushing my leg with her rather considerable weight. Eventually after what seemed to be an eternity, she shifted (mostly) on to her own seat. However she then opened the paper, but opened it practically on me, her arm flagrantly in my personal space. What made it worse was every time I moved even the slightest bit, a nod of the head, a blink, she would turn her face rapidly and stare right at me, our noses near touching like I had cause her some great affront. It was most disconcerting. That was one of the longest bus journeys of my life. The Wet Granny gets on the bus sporadically, one can never tell when she will appear, but when I see her alight, my fearful heart trembles in memory of that horrific trip.

And those are the people on my bus.


  1. you certainly paint a picture! Many of these characters ring bells from years of bus-usage in glasgow. Also the inordinate time taken going short distances. In this nice weather i'm sure you can walk from time to time to have a break from the stress! X

  2. Walk? 4 miles? Nah chance of that. I am lazy as I ever was, probably lazier. And now I work behind a desk, I wear moderate and impractical high heels to work.