Tales Of The Number 52 Bus

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Welcome to another installment of “Anna Writes Up Her Misfortunes And Embarrassing Incidents For The Entertainment Of Faceless Internet Readers”.

(I might need to change the name. It’s not too catchy.)

Tale 1 – Crazy Jesus Lady

A little bit of exposition for you: there used to be a woman who roamed Sheffield City Centre banging a tambourine, handing out pamphlets, singing hymns, coercing bemused shoppers into forming prayer circles, and just generally putting a lot of PR work in on behalf of “The Good Lawd” — for obvious reasons, she was known to all as Crazy Jesus Lady.*

I was headed into town for SYW and halfway along the route, CJL got on and started wandering up and down the aisle, banging her tambourine and handing out little slips of paper with bible verses on. This was long enough ago that I was still going to church at the time, and so when she got to me I politely smiled and said: “Oh, no, it’s okay. I’m already a Christian.” As far as I was concerned, this was a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Apparently not.

“Then you must help me!” she exclaimed, pushing the tambourine into my hands and shuffling off to hand out more little slips of paper. I sat there, utterly bemused, until she’d finished her round and circled back to me. I made as if to give the tambourine back to her, but instead she took hold of each of my wrists and started banging my hand on the instrument as though I were a toddler who had no idea how it worked. “Come on!” she encouraged, nodding and smiling away, and – at a loss for anything else to do – I just carried on banging the tambourine while she belted out “Kum-bay-ah, My Lord”. After a couple of verses, she decided I had to sing, too – by this point I’d gone a shade of red that most tomatoes would envy, and only joined in after a couple of nearby passengers (a hipstery-looking student and an old lady, who will remain my heroes to this day) took up the song to make me feel slightly less awkward.

Thankfully, I only had to endure the impromptu religious jam sesh for five more stops before I finally had an excuse to shove her tambourine back at her and make my escape – it was almost worth it for the three high-fives I got on the way off the bus.

*[Fortunately for shoppers (and unfortunately for blog-writers in need of material), CJL is no longer at large. She was deported several months ago, and has since been replaced by her associate, Hellfire Apocalypse Man. He’s much taller, much scarier, and a lot less fun.]

Tale 2 – Triple S

This happened about a year after CJL, and running with the nickname theme, I’ve dubbed the star of this story Triple S; you’ll see why.

I caught the bus back from town fairly late, and ended up sat at the back in the only available seat right behind a very intimidating bloke with dreadlocks, a red bandana and fewer teeth than my one-year-old foster sister. The first few stops passed without event, but as we reached the halfway point things began to get a little weird. The man in front of me had a large Primark bag on his lap and he started rifling through it, taking out garment after garment – every single one was a checkered men’s shirt, each in a different colour. The thing that caught my attention, though, was the fact that every single one seemed to still have the security tag on.

I quickly ignored what I’d just seen – if he wanted to satisfy his craving for checkered shirts via five-fingered discount,  that was his business – but I couldn’t help but stare when he picked up one and started sniffing it. Not just a curious little sniff, but a proper deep burying-his-face-in-it inhale, like some weird shirt-addict getting a fix. He put the shirt back in the bag, picked up another, and started sniffing that too.

By shirt number four he must have felt my eyes boring into the back of his head because he turned around in his seat so suddenly it made me jump. He didn’t even say anything, just fixed me with a boggle-eyed warning gaze and then turned around again. I quickly shrank back in my seat, looking everywhere but at him until we neared my stop.

Unfortunately, there’s more. Right before the stop closest to my house is a very sharp turn in the road, and so as I got up to walk down to the front of the bus it swerved, throwing me sideways– and right into the lap of the Scary Shirt-Sniffer. He had now progressed to shirt number five and only stared at me, mid-sniff, until I vaulted off his lap and made my exit in record time.

Tale 3 – An Accidental Profession Of Love

This happened only yesterday, and was what prompted me to write this post: I accidentally professed my undying love to a bus driver.

It was a Monday morning, and I was out with a couple of friends on an early-morning escapade to town to get an emergency birthday present. The three of us were mid-conversation as we got off the bus at the city centre, but like true British folk we stopped what we were doing to thank the bus driver (apparently people in other countries don’t do that… your bus drivers must feel terribly undervalued).

Right at the same moment, one of my friends agreed to do me a favour – I had meant to say “I love you!” to her, in that completely non-romantic way that friends do, but instead I gave her a very deadpan “thanks” and called “I love you!” over my shoulder to the bus driver. It would’ve been marginally less embarrassing had he been a younger gentleman, but no. He was quite large, balding, and definitely no younger than fifty.

An excellent start to the week, I’m sure.

It’s not the first time I’ve done this, either – I’ve also been known to profess my love to a pizza man entirely by mistake, and without the excuse of a second conversation happening at the time. The phone call ended with something along the lines of:

Him: …and if it doesn’t arrive in half an hour or under, it’s half-price.
Me: Okay, thanks, I love you!
[beat]
Him: …thanks.
[beat]
Him: Love you too.
[beep]

Bonus Tale – The Woman With The Teddy Bear

THIS POEM (if you haven’t read it already, click the link and then come back) actually stems from something that happened to me while travelling back from a friend’s house. She had one of those faces where you could tell right away that she wasn’t all there any more – the slightly glazed eyes, the blank expression – but I had a very interesting (if rather sad)  conversation with the woman about her son, and the reason the situation is unclear until the end of the poem is because I didn’t actually realise what she meant until right before she got off the bus.

And that’s all I’ve got for now. Again, apologies for being sporadic, but EXAMS and UNIVERSITY and SCHOOL and BOOK.

– Anna

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