Let me take you through today's journey.
The bus arrived at five past ten this morning. A full five minutes early! We boarded, flashing our bus passes as we did so, then proceeded to sit on the bus for ten minutes whilst the driver ate a sandwich and poured tea from a flask. At a quarter past ten he drove on. Now we were running a full five minutes late!
Almost immediately the bus was directed towards the narrow streets of Tonypandy where he jinked and jived that bus this way and that to a chorus of Whoa's and Phew's from the passengers.
To his credit, and he would no doubt argue it was due to his great skill, no wing mirror's were clipped and no pedestrians were squished on our way to the main bus stop of the town.
Now the towns of the welsh valleys date back to a time when a persons only means of transport were his/her feet or pony and trap. They were never planned and built without thought for modern forms of mass transport and therefore you will quite often find the front doors of the terraced houses are very near to the road. As almost every family now has a car the parking in those towns is strictly limited and, in quite a few places, illegal so, as you can imagine, driving a bus through them is not an easy affair.
There were numerous stops along the route but the one that sticks in my mind was in the town of Porth, where we parked up in the bus depot and our driver left us. For approximately ten minutes we sat there with nothing to do but idly peruse the occupants of the bus next to us and was in a similar, driver-less predicament.
I tried hard not to let my eyes linger too long on the red hot blonde beauty on the other bus but, to my shame,I did check her out several times. Two seats in front of this beauty I saw a child of perhaps 5 or six doing his best to keep the bus he was on tidy and clean by slowly licking the inside of the window. He stopped occasionally to poke his tongue out at me.
When our new driver arrived he immediately, and much to our annoyance, refrained from boarding and joined a group of his colleagues to express hearty and manly greetings and exchange pleasantries of, I presume, bus driver-ly nature.
When he finally did take his place behind the wheel and started the engine we were, by my watch, running fifteen minutes late and passenger tempers were beginning to fray.
This is when a bus drivers wicked sense of humour comes into play. You see, in order to get himself, his bus and indeed us, back on schedule we were treated to not one, but two, demonstrations of bus driver mean bastard-ness of the highest order.
This is what happened:
- He deliberately pulled up at a stop at the wrong end of the bus shelter
- Realising this, the passengers troop to the back of the shelter in order to board
- On seeing that the would-be passengers were almost at the door of the bus, the driver pulled forward to the correct boarding point.
- The would-be passengers turn, complaining, and troop back to the front of the shelter.
- The bus driver, seeing no one at the correct boarding point pulls out and back into traffic, leaving a gaggle of irate would-be's waving there arms and throwing umbrella's after the bus.
Later, just before we reached our destination (Pontypridd), there was another incident which raised eyebrows and infuriated would-be passengers. At a bus stop stood six or seven people, several of whom stuck out their arms to alert our driver to their presence.
Did he stop at the right place?
He drove at least twenty metres passed the stop and parked beside three men in florescent jackets. The men were obviously fellow bus drivers, and colleagues of our driver, exercising their right to free bus travel.
Once again a stream of would-be passengers jogged, waddled and hobbled towards the doors of the bus but our bus driver, who seemed totally devoid of any kind of Christmas spirit, had other ideas and pulled back onto the road.
We got off the bus at the next stop, but I couldn't help wondering if our driver would continue on his one man mission to selflessly piss-off any and all passengers during the rest of his trip to his final destination of Caerphilly.