I spend far more of my life than I would like on buses. This enforced use of public transport is on the verge of leaving me with the tolerance levels of a particularly crusty old Tory lord. Why can’t people behave on buses? It’s simply ghastly. So I’ve decided to write down the unwritten rules of public transport.
1. No Eating.
The golden rule. Buses, unlike trains, do not come with trolleys and buffet cars. Well, there’s a very good reason for that. Being on a bus for a few hours resembles a tin of sardines enough without having to smell like sardines. Now, I realise you may get peckish on the four hour spin to Dublin. Some foods are acceptable on buses. Here’s a good rule of thumb- if it’s dry, it’s probably OK. Chocolate, fruit, nuts and seeds- all odourless or even pleasant. Supermacs garlic cheese chips, tuna, Stilton- just no. And if I could ban one food from buses- egg sandwiches. You may enjoy them, but nobody else wants to bask the atmosphere of a sulphuric fart for a long journey.
2. No Talking.
The silver rule. This is a shout-out to all the weirdos who have attempted to talk to me on buses over the years. I DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU. People who are reading books, studying or listening to music should never ever be interrupted, unless you’re tapping them on the shoulder to say, “Excuse me, I believe the bus is on fire.”
You might think it’s harsh. You may think it’s a poor reflection on modern society that people no longer have time to talk. Whatever. Put it this way. In my last year of my undergrad, I had to talk to people all week in college, and then when I went home I had to talk to people all weekend at work. The bus was the only time I didn’t have to talk to people at all. It was my only scope to be myself- a misanthrope- and I didn’t enjoy having it interrupted.
3. If You’re Friends, Sit Together.
On a long bus journey, it’s nice to get a two seats to yourself. It’s not always possible, but it’s nice. In what appears to be a growing and worrying trend, people who are friends with each other are taking up not just two, but four seats, and then talking to each other through the gap between the seats. Look, I know it might be someone in your class you don’t know too well, but when it becomes clear that you’re going to spend the entire trip chatting, move and sit together, especially if the bus is full. Which brings us neatly onto…
4. Don’t piss off people with lots of luggage.
The bus is full and you arrive on at GMIT. You have a huge gearbag. Who do you sit beside? The person with a rucksack, laptop case and a guitar, or the person with no luggage at all? Choose wisely, because the wrong answer leads to one or both of you getting cramps in your calves because you have no room for your feet.
5. No PDAs.
Your boyfriend may like seeing the inside of your mouth, but I don’t.
6. Keep the volume down.
Sedate your children, use earphones to listen to music, save that heated call to your ex until you get home, and silence the voices in your head.
7. Don’t tell the bus driver your life story.
Old ladies are prone to this. He really doesn’t care, and neither does anyone else.
8. Don’t spend the journey taking pictures of yourself for your Facebook profile.
Seriously, I saw some guy do this once.
And finally… Enjoy yourselves! No, really. When you get your own car, where will the hilarious anecdotes about junkies shooting up in the backseats come from then?
This article first appeared on April 17 2012.