COLUMN: April 13, 2017

ZoeBall
Possibly my most up-to-date cultural reference

SOMEBODY asked me the other day how long I had spent waiting for buses, so I worked it out. I had time, as I was on a bus.

I have been working for 23 years, but for some of that time I drove to work, so let’s say I have got the bus to and from work for 20 years. Assuming I wait a total of 12 minutes a day, roughly 5.5 days a week (because sometimes I work or get the bus for domestic-based activities at the weekend), I worked it out as 190 days.

Then I worked it out properly and got an answer of 48 days. Honestly, they must have given out GCSE Maths passes like sweeties when I was a teenager.

So then I decided to use the same formula to work out how long I have spent on buses in that time. Taking an average of 75 minutes a day, which, I suspect, is an underestimate, I got 298 days.

Add the figures together and we can see I have spent 346 days either waiting for or on buses.

And that is without counting the buses I got to and from school and college. If you include those buses, I have spent more than a year of my life on buses. I have spent more time on a bus than Reg Varney.

That is a long time. You could watch every episode of Coronation Street that has ever been made TWICE in that time as long as you did not sleep or go to the toilet. I am not saying that you should do that, I am just saying you could.

Why are you telling us this, you ask? Do you think you are TV’s Johnny Ball, father of TV’s Zoe Ball, you ask? Why do all your cultural references stop in the 1990s, you ask?

The point is that I have spent a long time on buses, so much so that you would assume I have seen everything bus passengers can do and nothing could faze me.

You would be wrong. I saw something the other evening that I have never seen before and it shocked me.

You see, over the rear wheel arches on the bus I regularly catch, the designers of this bus have placed what I can only describe as bijou conference areas.

Basically they have turned one pair of seats on each side of the aisle around, so four teenagers can sit together and play terrible music at each other from their phone speakers.

But what it also means it that the worst people in the world – the sort of people who go to public toilets and don’t wash their hands afterwards – can sit on one side, and use the opposite side as a footstool.

People who have walked along grimy puddle-filled streets and stepped in Richard-Dawkins-knows-what think it is perfectly acceptable to place their grubby shoes where other people will later sit.

It is not. The only thing that makes living in cities bearable is consideration for others. It is why we don’t sound our car horns after 9pm or walk around with our shirts off when it gets a bit sunny.

I am used to seeing selfish idiots rest their legs in such a way, and, if I am fairly confident I will not be punched in the face or stabbed to death, will strongly recommend to them that they desist.

But until the other night I had never before seen two passengers who were not together do it at the same time.

I was as shocked as you are. Has this become a thing now? Have people decided it’s OK to plonk their dirty soles on bus seats in the same way they’ve decided they can say “Can I get…” in shops, or write down “could of” instead of “could’ve”?

One of the men – they’re usually men – was within my range of “not likely to commit manslaughter on me”. I could have told him to put his feet back on the floor.

But the other had biceps which suggested he would beat me in a best-of-three arm-wrestling bout, and all I could see were various scenarios in which I told the weaker of the two to be a decent human being, only to be pulverised by the offended stronger of the two.

And so I stayed in my seat and fumed. It felt like a very long bus journey home. And I should know.

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