Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Another commuting adventure

In the manner in which all roads lead to Rome, all strangenesses are led to travel on Dublin bus...

To nosy people like myself, it is a tragedy when the bus thunders into the car park of The Square at breakneck speed, its return journey information already up, its passengers all-but flung to the pavement in the driver's haste to get starting again. It's a tragedy when in the middle of all this a little white-haired old lady walks up to the driver from her "Give up this Seat" seat, remonstrates with him and is angrily rebuffed. Tragedy indeed because I couldn't hear one word of the exchange over the revving engine noise and had no idea of the cause of the argument. The mystery only deepened when the little old lady returned to her seat, obviously intent on being brought back the way she'd come.

I have seen bus drivers on very rare occasions who have turned the bus into a mobile creche. Once a sulking boy of about 10 years and a happy little girl of around seven did not alight at the last stop, the first stop for we waiting at the terminus, but instead rode back into town with Daddy Driver. The little girl couldn't keep the evident secret and spent half the journey waving and smiling into the driver's rear view mirror. The boy stared irately at the passing road surface through the grimy windows.

I wondered if today this driver had borrowed his granny for some outing. Maybe she had especially waited in the nursing home to be collected by a favourite grandson, only to find herself condemned to perpetual motion in the special seat of the swaying double-decker. She sat, a tiny figure in the big green seat, occasionally peering over the top of her glasses, craning up to see where the bus now was.

An Asian lady with a girl about three years old, stepped on wheeling a buggy. She shifted about to make room when the bus started filling up. The youngster started an impressively accurate rendition of "Molly Malone" as the crowds pressed in.

"She wheeled her wheel... BARROW...!"

The little old lady bounced up and down wordlessly in the seat behind her.

"Through streets broad and... NARROW!"

"That's a GREAT song," another woman sitting nearby said to the child. "You're a GREAT girl!"

Not be put off, she sang:

"Crying COCKLES and MUSSELS...
Alive, alive-O!"

There was all but a cheer from the captive audience, until she started the whole thing off again from the beginning. Getting off at Old Bawn, she gave the driver a big wave and a "Thank You!" before being pushed off home.

One time I recall the commotion of a drunk clambering on somewhere around Tallaght Village, slapping some random coins into the machine, ignoring the driver's shouts of protest, then collapsing, unconscious, into a seat near the back of the bus. A large, jolly-looking Italian man, looked over at him, then started to laugh out loud with big "Har! Har! Har!"s. The reason for his mirth soon began wafting its way about the back of the bus.

"Feck's sake!"
"Was that you?"
"NO! It was yer man!"
"Ah, Jaysus...! He hasn't has he?"
"He has!"

A young teen in charge of her younger sister reached into her bag and started spraying the oblivious one with Impulse. This caused huge bellows from the Italian.

"Har! Har! HAAAAR!"

He started turning purple, waving his hands in the air.

When I got off, there was a bubblelike barrier of scent around the sleeper, clawed by desperate hands from every handbag and knapsack. The echoes of the Italian in the seat opposite rang loudly down the Firhouse Road as the bus sped off.

Today, there was no satisfactory explanation for the mystery of the white-haired lady. She stayed ladylike, upright, quietly demure in the middle of her seat. Sometimes she popped up in the air as we went over speed bumps. Otherwise she was still.

I left the bus as usual and rambled home, wondering.

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