The Awkward Guide

In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself

The Awkward Guide To Public Transport

Sitting on a crowded bus, having paid your £1.30 for the privilege, and watching a group of people with beige anoraks and white perms shuffle on, is probably the only time in your life that you’re going to have cause to think the words “man, I wish I was over 60”. They get bus passes and they’re allowed to make people give them their seat. The rest of us learnt years ago, probably whilst playing musical chairs, that it’s not ok to force someone to give up something as precious as a place to sit down.

If you do manage to fight your way through the menacing gangs of geriatrics to find a place to park your behind, the Awkward Guide has some tips to help you avoid terrible faux pas, extreme embarrassment, and accidental maiming.

1. If at all possible, don’t sit upstairs, especially if you’re carrying anything. I’ll admit I may have a heightened sense of the importance of this owing to slightly scarring memories of trying to get off the school bus. But then, anyone who has tried to descend narrow, square, slightly spiralling stairs whilst carrying a school bag, games kit, and a hockey stick will attest to the fact that this is fairly impossible to pull off with any semblance of grace or elegance.

The normal complexities of managing to get down a flight of stairs in a controlled manner without going arse over tit are only exacerbated by the fact that you are enclosed within a moving vehicle, which is almost guaranteed to suddenly find the need to turn a very sharp corner or drive through a pothole as you cling precariously to the handrail.

It is for just such situations that we have cleverly evolved opposable thumbs. However, these are rendered entirely unhelpful if you happen to be carrying things, and in that case you are almost certain to end up in a crumpled, humiliated pile at the brown lace-up clad feet of a bad-tempered pensioner.

Therefore I urge you with the utmost alacrity to always sit downstairs.

2. If you find yourself, having taken the first piece of advice and avoided the stairs, still having trouble with the whole “walking through a moving vehicle” thing. If you find yourself with your face rapidly heading towards the floor, then by all means grab wildly for a handhold to steady yourself. It is wise to be aware, however, that the convenient poles provided for emergencies such as this one are fraught with hazards.

Foremost amongst these are the dangerous red buttons with “stop” written on them (also in Braille if that helps). Don’t grab one of these otherwise you may end up having to awkwardly explain to a severely displeased bus driver that you didn’t actually want to bring the bus screeching to a halt at the next stop, you just tripped over your hockey stick.

Also perilous are those hand holds hanging from the ceiling, deviously promising safety, but really just making you swing around doing a very good impression of a chimpanzee while mushrooms and packets of biscuits bounce around the bus, merrily freed from their plastic bag confines.

3. It is always infinitely preferable to not sit next to a stranger, but if the bus is crowded then you may be forced to take this step. You can make this somewhat drastic measure slightly more pleasant by adhering to a strict code of people to avoid:

  • Anyone who looks like they might be harbouring a thinly veiled desire to tell you their life story, particularly if their life story involves any sort of jail time.
  • Anyone who smells.
  • Anyone carrying large amounts of luggage, who is almost bound to require assistance getting out of their seat.
  • Anyone younger than 18 or older than 60.
  • Anyone with a child, or worse, multiple children, and all the corresponding child-related paraphernalia.
  • Anyone having a loud conversation on their phone.
  • Anyone playing irritating music through their phone speakers, instead of using headphones like a decent human being.

The Awkward Guide accepts no responsibility for adverse reactions to the implementation of advice supplied herein. Side-effects can include: smug laughter, mild disdain, and temporary irritation.


3 comments on “The Awkward Guide To Public Transport

  1. Pingback: The Awkward Guide To Learning To Drive | A Lot Like Jen

  2. extramural

    You have managed to sum up most but not all moments of awkwardness that omnibus travel can bring. If I might add the benefit of my experiences, do not count your fair out in coins and hold it in your hand before boarding the bus. You may think you’re being oh so clever, so efficient with your and everyone else’s time. You are not, you will drop you fair, all copper coins and ten pence pieces all over the floor of the bus. Oh the catcalls, oh the blasphemy and oh the death stares from my fellow travelers. Oh the shame.


    • alotlikejen

      Ah fare-related mishaps are indeed among the worst, a bit of an oversight in neglecting them I fear. But I did once have the misfortune to accidentally drop an extra 5p into the money-taking device, and once it’s gone in there’s no way it’s coming out. That was particularly galling. Though probably induced less public embarrassment than flinging my fare all over the floor. You have my sympathies.


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This entry was posted on 24/09/2011 by in Transport and Travel and tagged , , , , , , .

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