While it's not without its issues, bus travel at least allows me to avoid the stresses of driving in rush hour traffic.
In an earlier post (Bus Wankers) I mentioned some of the characters I see on a regular basis, and as the past few weeks has given me the opportunity to collect a few more observations, I thought I'd give them an airing.
What's interesting (assuming you're really bored already) is seeing what creatures of habit we all are, and a way to illustrate this is to summarise my daily journey.
Boarding the bus, I make my way to my preferred seat. Mumbles and Calhoun are sitting together in their usual seat, along with Jock two rows behind them. We exchange 'Good mornings' secure in the knowledge that it's the only communication that will occur.
Mumbles is a pleasant elderly lady who appears to be in her mid-seventies, reminds me of the junk lady from the movie 'Labyrinth', and I suspect has had a teensy bit of a stroke at some point, hence the mumbling.
Calhoun is the passenger formerly known as Fag-ash Lil, but I renamed her when she got her hair done recently and now looks a bit like the character Calhoun from the movie 'Wreck-it Ralph', only two or three decades older.
Jock is a recent addition, and I only realised he was Scottish the other day when an attempt at conversation left me floundering in a sea of thick Glaswegian.
Occasionally I'll find that we've been joined by Eminem - a middle-aged woman who seems to have developed a method of speaking that enables her to talk continuously without ever pausing to breathe in. She fires out words of scorn at the rate a machine gun fires bullets to anyone daft enough to pretend they're listening and she simply won't shut the fuck up. This is where a decent pair of closed-back headphones comes in handy.
A couple of miles down the road there's the usual stop for Fugley to get off the bus, after which the acceleration seems to improve.
Next stop is in Waterbeach is where we are join by Charlotte Sometimes - so called because she doesn't get on every day and it's also a song by The Cure. Charlotte Sometimes is then wedged against the wall by Mrs Bland who is determined to sit beside her even though she'll shortly have to stand up again to let Charlotte Sometimes off.
At the same stop the bus is also boarded by two of the Beverley Sisters. I'm still waiting for the day they spontaneously burst into song, but I suspect I might be waiting a very long time.
Last stop before leaving Waterbeach comes Victor Meldrew On Speed. This grumpy looking chap looks like he'd be the one holding everyone up when we get off the bus, but instead he takes on a surprising turn of speed - practically sprinting to make it to the bus which will take him on the next leg of his journey.
Landbeach is the next village, which is a colossal waste of everyone's time because it's a big detour and there's hardly ever anyone wanting to get on. It also means the bus has to cross the busy A10 twice to go there which often involves a lengthy wait.
Milton comes next where, among others, we meet The Headmistress - a skinny severe looking old lady who is itching to sit beside Mrs Bland, but has to wait until the next stop when Charlotte Sometimes gets off and they all shift around.
As we come into Cambridge a few passengers depart, including Anna Rexia - a thirty-ish woman who possesses that thigh gap that many women crave because they've seen it in the glossy magazines but in reality this is unobtainable without having an eating disorder. Seeing her walk up the street is like watching an amateur stilt-walker, or a new-born foal getting to its feet for the first time.
Nearly at our destination, there's only a couple more stops to drop off Big Boo (from Orange Is The New Black) and Eminem (if we've had the pleasure of her voice / company).
On arrival it's the usual scrum for the exit and off to our respective jobs, not forgetting to thank the driver - it's only polite after all.
The return journey in the evening is when I prefer to don the headphones and shut out the world as much as possible, but there's always the odd character that catches the attention - especially in the bus station which is a melting pot of every conceivable variation on the human animal. This includes Supermassive Black Hole - a woman so large she has her own gravitational field. She sits at the bus station spread across three seats, reaches into her bag and proceeds to munch away on a family-size pork pie. It's hideous, but it's a bit like a car crash because you can't help but look.
A similar character - I call him Fat Bastard - gets on our bus sometimes on the way home. When he gets off after a couple of miles, he walks straight into the Co-Op next to the bus stop, presumably to stock up on fizzy drinks, crisps and lard. Him and Jabba The Hutt would make an interesting couple.
The question that sometimes occurs to me is that assuming I'm not the only person in the world who assigns names etc to unknown people in everyday life, what sort of names do people come up with for me, and what assumptions might they make?
Maybe it's for the best that none of us really know what strangers think of us, because chances are we're mostly completely wrong.