All aboard

There’s nothing weird about me. My transport of choice would hardly rank me high on the slightly strange register. Would it?

Apparently, yes. Judging by the perplexed/”you’re kidding?” reaction I regularly witness, you’d think I’d done something very distasteful or outré indeed, but the social faux pas in question is using the bus. Seems that the very thought of clambering aboard one of Glasgow’s finest fleet alongside the hoi polloi sends a visible shudder of distaste through certain sections of the populace. Particularly, I notice, from the would-be well-heelers, and a significant proportion of the small biz brigade. Sometimes they even step back slightly with noses a-wrinkle, in case I’m carrying a bus-borne contagion.

Shame. That sniffiness is not only misplaced, but to this veteran bus goer, it symbolises a depressing denial of life in the round.

Social snobbery exists for all us, and I’ve got my own crosses to bear. But not when it comes to getting around. For me, the old A to B almost always involves transport of the more prosaic, more proletarian, more public variety. And if that makes me weird, you really need to get real. Consider the benefits, and come join me in the bus lover’s queue, even just once in a while.

I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek, natch, because believe me, there’s a lot not to love about doing business by bus. The rose-tinted specs can quickly mist over during interminable waits, inclement conditions, lack of (bus) shelter and not having the right change.

Talking of money… true, the bus isn’t a bargain, but it’s a whole lot cheaper than road tax and petrol, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quick it can be. Just tot up how much you’ve coughed up for parking alone, or watch on from a jam as I sail past serenely in the free-flowing bus lane and you’ll soon get the gist. And get this, these days they’ve even got wifi for some quick cyber catch-up.

The bus a great place to think and observe, but best of all, it’s life in the raw. The bus is unparalleled for drama, both tragic and comic, and the telling of thousands of stories, good, bad, and ugly. The cast come in all shapes, colours, cultures, sizes and smells. There’s oldies and youngies, mummies and buggies, druggies and drunkards, workers and idlers. There’s glammed-up girls, boys on the ran dan, and gender fluid folks too. Also singsongs, dark mutterings and patter galore, plus news, views and commentary on current affairs, everything from celebrity schmaltz to the geo-political.

You’ll witness small acts of kindness on daily display, the sullen and rude, and bad bam behaviour (tho’ not as much as you’d think). What’s more, you’ll travel the world too. A microcosm of the world, granted, but even a short journey on a Glesga bus lets you earwig on languages from all round the globe (and of the industrial variety too), and gives witness to unfolding social and cultural change.

So you see, for me, the bus keeps it real. Those journeys give me a wee window on other lives, many a lot less lucky than mine, and is a regular reminder of how very lucky I am.

And if that makes you shudder, then fine. You go your way, and I’ll go mine.