Get in line

Want to see my inner derby girl come out? Try cut in front of me in the bus queue, or stand pointedly in my way when I’m trying to clamber off the bus or leave the platform. I’m generally pretty polite, ridiculously considerate in fact, but do either of those things when I’m on my way to work or (worse still) heading home after a difficult day, and I’ll hip check you into last week, or at least as far as platform nine.

I’ve done it before, I’m not prou… screw that, I AM proud to admit it. Because some people are just so blatantly rude. They see a snaking queue of tired people inching as close to the person in front of them as common decency will allow. They clock the resigned stares into the middle distance, the wind-swept, rain-matted hair and rumpled jackets. And then when the 107 finally pulls up they boldly step right to the front and try to force their way into the stuffy interior of the bus first.

bus card

Bus cards can also double up as weapons

So, yes, I’ve employed the use of a sturdy hip or shoulder check. Making sure, of course to just keep rolling. Because the best way to cause a scene is to stop to admire your handiwork. Executed correctly, the recipent is knocked (gently, but firmly) off course, allowing everyone else who waited patiently like normal human beings to board while they’re still trying to figure out who was responsible, or even if it was on purpose. Rest assured, your fellow commuters, those in close proximity, will have noticed, their weary half smiles all the thanks you need.

At the end of a rough day, I would actually almost welcome the resulting confrontation. That harried hour when tensions run high, when everyone is exhausted, irritated, impatient to get home (just so they can cook, clean and take care of squealing, hyped up kids) – that’s the best time to get the measure of a person. Most of us realise we’re all in the same boat, give or take a handful of sprogs. So we shuffle along, avoid eye contact, scroll through phones on their last bar, glance obsessively at the bus timetable. But there’s always that one person who takes the missing piece of barrier or sidetracked platform staff as an invitation to throw common courtesy out the window and barge straight for the doors. And all it takes is that one inconsiderate specimen breaking loose, for a dozen more to follow. And my, do they look affronted when you tackle them on it…

Granted, I’m usually the one who ends up screaming like a fishwife. And believe me, the rule breakers and disinterested bus station staff get equal servings of it.

I try to just grit my teeth and plod along, hoping to get a seat. But these days, when that breach of the barrier is the difference between standing squashed far too intimately against 13 strangers with nothing to hold onto except someone else’s wobbly bits, or having to wait another half an hour in the icy wind – well, I tend to get a little worked up.

I become the person that people tell their spouses all about over dinner. And then they laugh gently and shake their heads – because deep down inside they know the “crazy chick who lost her mind completely” could very well be them tomorrow.


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