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Just A Bus Trip Or A Daytime Nightmare

I found myself having to catch a bus last week, the second week of the children's school summer holiday. I was instructed to take my son to his Grandma's house and with my wife having the car it left me with no choice but to do something that I hadn't done for over twenty years - take the bus. The 188 from Weymouth to Poole. I was to get on from the stop at the end of my road which wasn't too far away from the town but a little too far to walk. My son and I reached the stop ten minutes before aforementioned bus was due. Forty minutes later it still hadn't turned up so I got on the number 92 which stated, Poole.

On we jumped - I asked if he went all the way to Poole. No, he said, I don't. Well it says "Poole" on the destination board, I stated. It says India on the tyres, he replied, but I'm buggered if I'm going there (Okay, the old ones are the best) - yes, of course I'm going to Poole. 1.

35 for you, half fare for the boy. It was just 14 pence the last time I went on a bus, shows how I'd lost touch. I think I started to enjoy the ride more than my seven year old son, who always got excited during the odd bus trip, especially if it was an open top bus and he would be 'allowed upstairs'. Then my enjoyment started to fade as we had to actually stop to let some people get on.

After using my own transport for so many years this was a nuisance. They fumbled with their change and took ages to sort out a ticket. The time, the time, what are they doing? Off we went, when a kind driver eventually let us pull out.

Ah yes the memories of busses was coming back to me. I read the same few adverts over a few times and moved from a draughty vent. I couldn't help but listen to a stupid conversation that some teenage girls were having in front of my new seat. Boyfriends, who'd have them, eh? My boy was grinning from ear to ear, obviously enjoying seeing something from the bus window, everything seemed to please him but here was I getting totally fed up with the slow, noisy and frustrating bus ride into, Poole. Going to Grandma's in the car took seven minutes but here on the bus, only half way there, had taken an hour already.

We stopped at a bus lay by but there weren't any passengers to pick up, so why stop? Ah, yes, I remember now - the driver has to 'do his books'. He clicked a number of coins from his cash dispenser and wrote a few notes in his book, messed about with some tickets and timetables and put the engine in gear. Not wanting to hurry, he wasn't fussed that nobody would let him pull out onto the highway again, choosing to wait instead until there was a huge gap in the traffic before he even attempted to pull away. Sadly, in Poole, we have a thing called a lifting bridge.

It is for the boats in the harbour. The main road in and out of Poole is built over, Poole harbour, and the road has to lift up in order for shipping to go through to the other side of the lifting bridge. Now the bridge lifts up at certain times - called the 'rush hour' and 'when anyone's in a hurry to get to Poole'. It is the biggest black mark in the history of Poole. All traffic comes to a stand still once the lifting bridge is up and allowing the boats to sail through.

Judging by the queue of traffic that the bus joined after we left the last stop, we had hit such a time. Off goes the engine and silence falls on the neighbourhood - it's quite eerie really and also bloody annoying. Anyway, after around an hour (fifteen minutes actually but it felt longer) off we went again, very, very slowly as the bridge isn't very wide and certain vehicles can only go through single file, meaning one driver has to wait for the other. If we are lucky it won't go up again before we get our chance to cross to the other side. It didn't and the bus station, our destination, was getting nearer. But wait, the driver was turning off the main road and going a different way than I expected.

Oh yes, another 'bus thing', it may have to pick up passengers from that bus stop about two miles up that odd road that nobody ever goes along but 'just in case', buses must go that way. Nobody was at the stop - the driver waited there anyway (just to annoy people like me, of course) and then off we went again -."Look daddy, a train is at the station", be quiet, I replied. The queue into the bus station was long as cars were in the bus lane, cars who's drivers didn't realise that the lane for the multi-storey car park was the other lane, not this one, this one was for buses. At last we were at the bus station and parked up.

Now, had we have caught the 188, or rather had it turned up, we would have been dropped outside of Grandma's but, as this was the 92, it took us to the station and we had to catch another bus to go to a road near Grandma's. Stand by for Mr. Grumpy. Yes the 101 to Bournemouth was late. If a driver is late he is very grumpy and snaps at all passengers along the way - that's if he actually stops to pick them up.

Many 'would be' passengers are left stranded with their hand sticking out to stop the bus only to see it sail on by - in Poole that means you've got a late, grumpy driver. After queuing for a while I stated where I'd like to go. Seventy two pence, the driver snapped. Why the odd two?, I thought. Anyway I thought it would be good to give him the correct change as they always seem to not be able to change a fifty pence coin if my memory served me correctly, so to cheer him up I placed some coins on his counter and looked in my pockets for the odd two pence coin. He tutted and groaned and looked at his watch in annoyance followed by a look over my shoulder at the queue.

He tore off my ticket and told me that I should tear my own ticket off. I said, "well, the other driver tore it off for me", but he didn't seem to care. This was all new to me.

My son was getting fed up by now - all his playtime would be used up on the bus trips. Past the first two stops without stopping (I told you, didn't I?) and picking up a few other passengers then on to our stop. Off we jumped and walked the rest of the way to Grandma's. Grandma was pleased to see us. My boy played with some toys and then we were invited to stay to tea. Mummy came to Grandma's from work and we all had a lovely time - apart from the bus trip.

I am having the car next week, no, I said, I AM having the car next week!.

Martyn Brown: 20+ years involved in home business and the Internet. Has edited newsletters and magazines since 1985. For a free, downloadable, work from home magazine, visit: http://www.WorkingHoursMagazine.co.uk


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