After our second visit to the gym this week, I am buzzing, and ready for whatever life throws at me. Rather than checking the TripView app for the time until the next bus arrives, I throw caution to the wind, knowing they run every ten minutes. As I cross the road at the Norton Street pedestrian crossing I see the red bus. I run to catch it. Passengers who are slow to board, delay the departure of the bendy vehicle.
Phew, I end up on a seat with little leg room; at least I’m sitting. My mind gets caught up with work emails and planning for my meeting with the new Director, who starts next Monday.
I realise the bus is not following the regular route. After the driver passes the second turn that would have rectified his mistake I realise I’m on the wrong bus. We are heading north instead of east. I alight to look for a toilet under 201 Elizabeth Street, I’m sure I’ve used one here before! Aiming to make my way to the M10 bus stop on Oxford Street, I’m delighted to see signs to the subterranean Museum Station.
Knowing that a diversion through the station will take me under the busy road I head off on a voyage of discovery, into a network of tunnels, shopping areas and railway platforms.
Amazingly, I arrive at work only ten minutes later than expected!
One day I was waiting for the bus, in a world of my own. Slowly a few other people added to the number, haphazardly positioned around the stop.
When the bus arrived I moved in line with the doors. Noticing a few passengers inside the bus who were making their way to the front, presumably to alight, I took one step back. As I did so a person rushed in front of me to get onboard. I would normally not react to this sort of occurrence. On this occasion I declared, “you’re supposed to wait until people have got off!”
Months, and many trips have passed since this experience. This morning while reenacting the scene, I was reminded of it. This was immediately followed by questions: who made the rule? And, even though I prefer not to queue, was I outraged that someone jumped in front of me?
The answer to the former and the latter is, while I can’t remember being formally trained in the niceties of polite travel on public transport, it is an ingrained, British thing to give way to others.
The timetable promised a travel time of one hour and ten minutes. In reality the journey on the 370 took a further ten minutes.
Many bus services have been diverted due to the construction of a light rail from Central to Randwick and Kingsford.
Rather than sitting for even longer to follow a detour around three quarters of the University, I opted to stretch my legs by taking the main walkway from lower to upper campus.
When catching the bus to and from work there are certain seats that I prefer. Being broad shouldered I have found that sitting towards the back of the bus provides more room. The seating area is elevated to such a level that the bottom of the windows are under my elbow, allowing one arm breathing space.
One day this week I got on a bus, a short walk from my home. All seats were occupied except for the back seat. I wouldn’t normally venture this far down the bus as it can be hot and noisy sitting above the engine. With limited leg room this seat is designed for five people. In my experience four is the maximum for those with a fuller figure. Today was no exception; there was movement as I approached; two dubious looking individuals scooted in opposite directions towards either window tugging belongings onto their laps. After sitting down to face the front right hand side of the bus the person behind me sat down on the left.
I caught myself gazing absent mindedly at the back of the head of a stocky man seated next to the aisle in front of me. A crazy paving like pattern of faint pink veins ran up from his neck across the surface of his light coloured scalp, snaking through the stubble of a closely shaved head. It reminded me of a river system seen from above the Earth.
After travelling uneventfully for about ten minutes, I heard a quiet jingling noise to my right. I did not catch the words the older looking lady seated next to Pink River System Man (PRSM) was uttering, however from her agitated manner and hand signals I realised she had spilled the contents of her bag on the floor. She spoke loudly to a darker skinned chap in front of PRSM. A number of passengers assisted to retrieve the runaway items.
When it looked like calm was returning to my journey I was fascinated to see a fist appear in front of PRSM. It proceeded to grind into the back of the head of Darker Skinned Chap (DSC). The goodwill of fellow passengers quickly faded as the woman continued to hurl rapid directions at DSC. I wondered if they were related, then thought, “Well they aren’t sitting next to each other.”
PRSM informed the woman that rather than abuse DSC she should search for her belongings herself. She muttered that he was in a better position to see where they had fallen. The woman began sorting through the contents of her bag. For the rest of the trip she took out and replaced items in a frenetic manner.
All in all, bizarre behaviour on a bus!
I have included a picture of an equally bizarre Paisley pattern I developed a while ago.
Morning light breaches the UTS.
Buses halt in line, wait to disgorge
Passengers, to go about their day.
Central Park plants are poised to partake
Today of the sun’s life giving rays.
The poetry of people and place.
It is so easy to slip into automatic pilot for the journey to work. Today was different. I would like to thank the driver who welcomed me to his bus with a chirpy “good morning”.
Since prepaid fares have been introduced in Sydney there is little need to interact with the driver. Being greeting was part of the story; the driver also played familiar songs and wished everyone a good day as they alighted.
I tell others about the beauty of Australia, usually referring to the beaches, outback and rainforests. Today I was given several moments in urban paradise.
The songs included Don’t you forget about me by Simple Minds, Really wanna know you by Gary Wright and Paradise by Coldplay.
Mostly quiet; purring of the engine,
Pierced by one voice.
Headphones, immaculate dark brown hair,
Golden tan, short back and sides, dark grey jersey.
“You got muscle?”
Heads down phones out.
“She played for UNSW”
Seven polygons overlaid in the round below the thumb.
Blue denim shirt, cream chinos and sandy coloured hair.
“Big crowds expected” states the jumping video screen.
Heavy gold links encircle a slim young wrist.
“Almost two years, nice!”
Raindrops on glass,
Wipers have stopped.
Wet umbrella at my feet.
An annoying fly.
“Julie, see you around, my name’s Brad!”
Time to work
It was a sunny day with a refreshing nip in the air. I made my way to a seat next to an ordinary looking young man, thankfully he didn’t appear to be listening to music. I quickly became immersed in the chatter of my mind. Occasionally I noticed details for the first time on buildings I had frequently seen before. I was vaguely aware of the bus stopping and starting as it often does on weekday mornings going into the city along Parramatta Road, Sydney, Australia.
Suddenly, the person next to me stood up.
I’m usually hypersensitive of others being about to do something. The shock of movement from next to me jolted me to the core. I experienced a yoyo feeling somewhere in my upper chest. Assuming the man wanted to alight from the bus. I hurriedly grabbed the bags on my lap, stood, stepped into the aisle, and sat down again after he had gone.
Memories of similar situations connected in my mind. Why did I react in the way that I did? My childhood training has stayed with me, I excuse myself and thank people when I need to get past them!
I would be interested in reading your experiences like this.
Two buses go past as I wait for the green man to appear.
There are two people loitering near the stop. There’s no sign of the express service in the crawling metal convoy before me. I decide to take the train.
I walk briskly towards the railway station. There is usually an ant like line of pedestrians along this route, not today.
I notice the purple green leaves of a ginger in bloom.
As I near my destination I see yellow and silver carriages setting off to the city.
I smile to myself, at least I have captured a moment of morning stillness.
Warm, wet, watch,
Wait. Early or late?
Here at last.
Thrown in seat.
Stop. Chug-chug chug-chug,
Start, err rer rer rer,
Sway, lurch, stop.
Loop ’til D’Hill
(c) Robert Jones 2014, All Rights Reserved