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Musings of a Night Bus Driver

I’ve reached a point where I’ve stopped caring to be honest with you. This job was originally just a stop-gap while I tried to do some things on the side. While my business ambitions were stalling you know – this was originally just a way for me to utilise my skills, get the training and then I’d go from there once things picked up.

That was 7 years ago – my businesses are in the business of being dormant away from me and I’m still here on a routine shift which means I rarely get all but the normal passengers on the bus. I drive the graveyard shift, but as London is a 24-hour city, it means I work when the people you don’t want to see in sunlight appear. I would compare them to vampires, but that’s an insult to Dracula.

Now when I say I’ve stopped caring, what I mean is, I’ll do my usual night shifts, I start at 11 and I finish at 6. Easy 7 hours on paper but it never pans out that way. Simple reason is this – London comes alive in the night time. I have a story every night and I’m sick of it. I’m tired. I’ve resigned myself that I will continue burning up holes in the ozone layer just so I can continue bunning to keep to grips with the amount of red lights I see and Oyster noises I hear every damn day. God forbid the card machine go down on the night shift as that means I have no excuse to say no and let me tell you, there was one guy last week; I feared for my life. He came on, with a blazer over a hoody, that alone is a flag, stinking of Wray and Nephews mixed with Coca Cola and started telling me how he had a friend named Sebastien who had his Oyster. I immediately thought this guy was talking about the crab thing from Little Mermaid so I laughed; a man’s got to get his giggles somehow right.

He then starts laughing along with me and then begins hitting the glass of my window for no damn reason. I told him then, as calm as I could, that the Oyster machine wasn’t working so he could just take a seat. Keep in mind there were about 25 people on the bottom deck. This was about 1:30 or 2 in the morning on a Friday. Usual stuff I’m thinking. He finally takes his seat and within 3 stops I’ve got to go and ask him to get off the bus while I make a call to the police. What happened you ask? He went and hit a teenage kid who he said was playing music too loudly. Kid walked off with a headphone dent in the side of his head from the haymaker the guy hit him with.

But yes, stories, I have plenty of them. Most people who catch the night bus in London are fine. It’s just the drunk yuppies and the hoodies that you’re cautious of the most. Young women you’re always looking to see if there’s a potential problem with their safety. No matter how everything else is going, if I see a woman, but especially a young woman, alone on my bus, I automatically enter red alert mode. People will see a woman and automatically feel entitled to do or say anything and that’s a pisstake. I’ve got too many stories that I’d rather not know you know.

I’d argue that yuppies are worse than hoodies though. Hoodies just want a place to blaze their weed, drink their alcohol and get to where they’re going. If they’re looking to rob someone they’ll do that whether or not it’s on the bus or not. It’s just how it is. This city; belly of the beast business. We’ve all done some dirt and we’ve all had it thrown in our face. Give and take although the take tends to win a lot of the time… again it is how it is. And I can’t lie, I’ve let kids on just because they’ve smelt of my favourite strand. Before they get off I might ask them who their dealer is – it depends if they’re slow getting on and off and if they sit on the bottom deck. There’s variables to consider with this sort of stuff

Yuppies are the worst people to serve however. They tend to be drunk and/or high. Sobriety is a word they cannot spell or pronounce when they enter my fine bus, they always leave rubbish everywhere which may or may not include their vomit, headphones, car keys, house keys, account details to their trust funds, their manbun, their extensions, their purse, you name it, they’ve left it and later claimed it!

They get on and make their presence known with their noise, they see non-white people and assume they have drugs on them and will probably ask them for some if the illegal drugs are their vice. Look, they’re unpredictable and that’s why I don’t like them. There’s me taking a right with everything all peaceful, knowing I’m near the terminus and everyone’s getting off soon, all of a sudden, a couple are arguing about their keys to their nice apartment which they rent of the dude’s parents and all of a sudden I’m having to call the police as the guy ends up threatening me as well as his missus all because she said I might know where the keys are. Crazy eh!

Maybe that’s why I give up on the businesses, these people are just too interesting (aka crazy) and these are the guys I’d be supplying. My original aim was to open a liquor store, but I couldn’t get the overnight license; the forms were too long and I don’t like dealing with anything that involves HRMC directly and me directly reporting to them. It’ s a pretty pathetic reason though, thinking that these kids would probably be the ones who I’d have been providing more beverages too. I couldn’t live with the idea after doing this job for a few years that I’d be responsible for someone else who’d be in my position driving the bus having to put up with these yuppie kids. Bloody hell, I’m a martyr. That’s why I’m tired and don’t care anymore. I’m a martyr for these guys. Driving a bus, hoping I can make it to the next stop and eventually the end of the route and back again. A martyr for TFL before they strike again. A martyr for the beast that is this city. A martyr for the constant privatisation of the sectors all around me. A martyr in every sense of the word. I pray my tiredness is looked upon favourably on Public Transport Judgement Day; otherwise, all the vomit cleaning and abuse wouldn’t be worth it. Blessed are the meek eh. We need to be blessed to be meek. Goddamn it.

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