The bus was about to leave. Just as the doors shut there was a sudden knock on the glass. The bus driver sighed and opened the doors. An old man stepped slowly onto the bus. Sandals with socks, long straggly beard, blue mackintosh, more plastic bags than a bag lady on an exceptionally productive day. And when I say "slowly", imagine an ageing snail travelling against the wind.
He gently relieved himself of his plastic bags, carefully arranging them along the aisle. He rummaged through them, we sighed collectively, a bitter and despairing sigh. Even the chubby kid looked up angrily from his maths homework. The bus route had already been wrecked by the spectacular incompetence of a leading gas supplier. At every stop dizzy college girls delay us as they fumble for the change that they failed to get ready WHILE THEY WERE WAITING. Imbecilic drivers do their best to ruin our day. I don't let these things get to me. And now this? I'd have more fun being pooped on by a flock of deranged pigeons. Guess I picked the wrong day to give up sarcasm.
Stooping, drooping, his shaking hands fumbling, he searched for something as we looked on in horror. The bus was now five minutes late and it had not even started the journey. For several minutes he rummaged, (chubby kid went back to his maths) eventually pulling out a leather-bound book. He slowly unwound the binding cord. Round and round, round and round, a bit like the wheels on the bus, apart from the fact we WERE STILL STATIONARY. Good job I've been working on managing my anger. My patience is legendary. He flicked slowly through the book, finally removing his bus pass.
"Sorry love," said the bus driver, "you can't use that pass before 9."
What followed was the most painful exit I have ever seen. Rummaging, fumbling, dithering, mumbling. He slowly gathered his bags, chatting to the bus driver all the while. He chatted about this, about that, discussed that one and the other one. "About what?" you ask. I have no idea. The bus driver begged him to get off. We were running late, she pointed out. He commented on the weather, mumbled about the other one again, and something else, and this and that. The infernal wagging of his beard infuriated all of us (apart from the chubby kid apparently).
After much coaxing he stepped off the bus, bags and all. We emitted a collective sigh of relief, there was still a possibility of not being too late. Of course if the gas supplier and college girls had their way we would still grow old on the bus. He turned and stepped back inside. We shuddered collectively, anticipating a vicious loop of death whereby we all died trapped in the bus as this old codger shuffled on and off for eternity (watched by a deranged flock of pigeons no doubt).
"Cheerio," he said merrily, gave the bus driver a wave and shuffled away.
A Little Girl Feeding Some Baby Crocodiles, 1932
4 hours ago