We all do it, and we all have varying degrees of success. But today, for me, it was an interesting one. It looked like it was going wrong; like the fates had conspired to put me in a situation only ever seen in sitcoms. But it turned out… okay.
I got on the bus. I paid my fare. I was three pints deep and in no mood to walk 30 minutes home and need a wee 95% of the walk (because that is what would happen). I wandered along the empty vehicle, eyeing up where to sit, and decided on my usual spot: the disabled/access seat. There are five on the bus I was on. The bus I was on was empty. If anyone with less physical ability than myself was to get on, they would have options, and they would have them sooner than when they got to where I was sat.
It was perfect.
But then a man got on. Doddering is a good word to describe him, and I don’t intend it in a pejorative sense. He was old, but not that old, but clearly with some physical disability that prevented him from walking – or really moving – with any great ease.
He entered the bus premises and hobbled forward. I glanced, but looked away as I assumed he would sit straight away on the first, easy-access seat he came to.
He pointed at me. I edged to the side to give him room to sit. He looked annoyed, but threw himself onto the seat I had given him space for.
I took my earphone out to hear what he was looking like he wanted to say.
“That’s my seat.”
I worried. I thought ‘great, he’s body and head-mental. Bus journey ruined.’ But I actually responded: “Sorry, would you like me to move?”
“No, it’s fine – I can’t move now anyway. I’m too buggered.”
“Oh god, I am sorry – I can shift over if you need. It’s no worry at all.”
“No, don’t worry about it. Just remember in future: when I point, I want to sit there.”
“My apologies. I will.”
The bus lurched to the side and he grabbed for a pole to steady himself, missing slightly then correcting and eventually getting it. A simple act, rendered very difficult by age and inability to function. I felt like a piece of shit. He sensed this.
“Really, don’t worry about it. I’m on for two stops, that’s all.”
“Ah, that’s alright then, I suppose.”
“It is – because it means I’m very close to home and then I can break out the brandy!”
And on this, I laughed quite loud. I pressed the ‘stop’ button for him, he exited the bus and saluted me while walking past. And I smiled.