I feel a little bit grubby, slightly shop-soiled and a touch tainted.
Why is that, I imagine you asking.
Well let me tell you.
After an action packed day of office work I decided that I was going to leave on the button. At 5pm – thereby missing the heavy traffic.
I am a patron of Dublin public transport – in particular the bus network. This is not motivated by any overwhelming concern for the environment on my part – I try to be reasonably green, and I’ll make an effort to recycle, but I’m slightly cynical about the usefulness of such activities in averting climate change – I’ve witnessed the non-winter we’ve have in 2015-2016. The main reason I use public transport is because I don’t drive. In fact I can’t drive. If the truth be told I have never sat behind the wheel of a car. While I know what the brakes do, the meaning of the word ‘clutch’ remains a complete mystery to me.
I’ve never really had any impetus to learn how to drive before this year. Having lived in Amsterdam for decades there was no reason to – as the city had a highly developed cycle-lane network in which the only danger you faced was from other cyclists who were texting as they pedalled. And if you needed to travel anywhere that was too far to go by bicycle then it was almost guaranteed that a bus, tram, metro, train or boat would whisk you there in a jiffy.
Unfortunately Dublin’s public transport network is slighlty less user friendly. This can be partly explained by population. The Netherlands has a population of almost 17 million in a land area the size of Munster – and the Randstad region where most of the major cities are located has a population of 8 million in an area the size of Cork and Limerick. Basically it is the most densely populated country in the world – only Bangladesh has a more concentrated population.
Ireland on the other hand is the least densely population country in Europe – excepting Sweden, FInland and Norway – most of whose people live Dahn Sarf.
So I stood at the bus stop at 5pm. And I waited. And waited. And then I waited little longer. Finally at 5.40 a bus pulls up. I had strategically positioned myself at the spot where the doors open. It’s a matter of location,location, location you see. When you’ve been waiting that long it’s guaranteed it will be crowded. And seeing as Irish people don’t really do queues it becomes a matter of every man for himself. Survival of the fittest if you like. Boarding a crowded bus is not a job for sentimental people. As the bus pulled in I was standing at the spot where I guessed the door would open. Then with a strategic yet subtle use of elbows, I was one of about ten people who boarded. The door shut. The bus was full. But I was on board. I tried not to look at the angry people left outside who couldn’t fit on the vehicle.
There followed a gross journey home. People were packed like sardines into the grubby bus. Clearly it had been some months since it had been washed – the layer of grime on the windows meant there was no visibility outside.
Most tragic of all was the reality that some people don’t seem to have grasped the concept that a daily shower is a necessity in the year 2o16. A foul stench of BO mixed with socks permeated the air. I couldn’t quite see steam rising from my fellow passengers, but the sense of being part of a fetid, human stew was apparent.
I grabbed the poll, held my breath, and tried to think happy thoughts for the duration of the journey.
I have applied for my theory test in preparation for getting my driver’s license.
The test is in about a month.
I plan to join the ranks of the car-owners.