I was the last person on the bus today.
Well, not the last person. The driver was the last person. I was the last paying passenger. I was on a wobbly seat and had been entertained for the whole journey by a barrage of Michael Jackson hits coming through tinny headphones. When the woman responsible for this entertainment originally got on the bus she’d lost her iPod. She accused everyone of stealing her iPod. And then found her iPod. I kind of wish it had stayed lost.
Anyway, I was the last person on the bus. And I discovered that I have a strange habit when I’m the last person on the bus.
I start to make a load of noise. Unnecessary noise.
It’s almost as if I’m saying, from whatever seat I happen to be sitting in, “Woohooo, Mr Driver, I’m here! Don’t forget me!” Although, I hope, in a less camp way than that sounded as I typed it.
So there I was, at the back of the bus, the last passenger. And I started coughing. I don’t have a cough. I’m fine. But you wouldn’t have known that a while ago, if you’d seen me. Although you seeing me would mean I wasn’t alone on the bus and would therefore negate my need to cough to make sure the driver knows I’m still there – Heisenberg’s Uncertainty theory in action. I was laying it on good and proper. Proper hacking coughs. Loud coughs. Coughs that went, “I’m still here.”
The the bus neared my stop. I stood up. Still coughing. I walked down the aisle of the bus. I rang the bell. I’m fairly sure the driver could see me at this point – the only passenger on his bus – walking down the aisle to the doors and yet I felt the need to ring the bell. Again, I’m saying “Woohoo, I’m still here.” I was still coughing. Not as much as before, but just a cough every now and again to remind him I was there. All this makes it sound like it was a long bus. It wasn’t. I was doing all this in a relatively short distance.
But I hadn’t finished.
Oh no, I had the final weapon in my arsenal.
So, there I am. I’ve been coughing. I’ve run the bell. I’ve walked to the front of the bus making as much noise as I can. There is no doubt in my mind that the driver knows I am there. He probably always knew I was there. I wasn’t hiding behind the seats. I was there, in plain view. There has probably never been any doubt that he wasn’t alone. And, I think, I’ve signalled my presence really, really well.
Now I’m standing next to the driver’s cab. Near that sign that says “Do not stand forward of this point or otherwise interrupt the driver because it gets on everyone else’s tits and it makes it really hard to get on and off the bus. Plus there’s the chance that if he has to suddenly apply the brakes you’ll slam into the windscreen like a human fly.” That sign. I could have reached out and touched the driver. Well, in the old days I could. Now he’s in a perspex cage after the spate of bus driver punchings during the late 90s.
And I start yawning. Loud, exaggerated yawning. Bagpuss yawning. Massive, unnecessarily loud yawning.
In my head I’m screaming at myself. What the hell am I doing? Why am I standing there making a tit out of myself? Why do I not just wait for the bus to stop. I’ve rung the bell. Even if it goes past the stop I could lean beyond the sign that says “Don’t talk to the driver” and talk to the driver. I could say, “Excuse me, my man, didn’t you see me standing adjacent to your good self? I did ring the bell which should indicate my desire to disembark from this vehicle. No, no, no need to apologise. I shall enjoy the leisurely stroll from this spot here.”
I stand there and yawn loudly. It was all I could do to fight the urge to put my arms up above my head.
But at least my cough had cleared up.