I had just boarded a bus this morning when just after a few minutes at around 5.07am it came to a halt. Few passengers alighted and more boarded. The last to board was a young, athletic man in his late twenties or early thirties judging from his demeanor. Swiping his oyster card, the system returned a red beep to signal that he did not have enough crediton his card.
When such a situation happens, the obvious thing is the holder of the card to dig into his/her pocket and pay in cash or alternatively getting off the bus. On rare cases I would imagine a customer could be allowed to still continue with his/her journey without interruption provided there was a reason to allow such a judgment. I say it is rare because I have never heard it reported.
This particular man was a bit interesting. Following his arguments I gathered he was not pleading to be allowed into the bus but rather seemed to question the driver why his card did not have credit.
They say-the customer is always right- and the bus driver seemed to understand that philosophy pretty well-he gave him a listening ear. The would-be passenger went on and on about how he had spent the last top-up. Having heard enough the driver asked his oyster card and whipped it on the reader. As this was happening the other passengers were getting impatient and agitated.
A loss of just a minute in London might mean missing your next connection, so their anger and frustration can be understood. One elderly woman right behind me shouted ‘young man release the bus and get out now.’ In solidarity with the elderly lady, another well-built man added, ‘or I will have to remove you myself.’ At this point I was looking at my watch and a loss of few more minutes would have meant me loosing my connecting bus to the airport and consequently my flight but this particular situation was out of my control so I just sat calmly and watched as things unfolded.
Signalling danger, the fellow took the print-out from the driver and seemed to agree that indeed he had spent all his money. Turning back in shame or fear of retaliation from other passengers for wasting their time he started swearing as he left the bus while the passengers celebrated and one seated next to me shouted ‘good radiance.’ I doubt the passengers would have let him in even if he got a green light from the driver.
As we neared my stop I pressed a button to signal to the driver I needed to get out. The door opened and in a flash catapulted towards the station. It would normally take me ten minutes to cover that distance but I only had less than five. I got to my bus just as the driver ignited the key.Even when he said good morning I could not respond-I was out of breath. I just smiled, flashed my ticket and found my seat.
Thankfully I got to the airport an hour earlier and that meant I could sit down and relax and get my day started properly with a cup of tea.
Grabbing my hot cup I retreated to a secluded table and pulled out a newspaper I had picked on the way. All the paper carried, seemed about people complaining about life. From ‘Tax to tackle London bubble’ to ‘Luis Suarez vs Mirallas hideous tackle.’ It was too early for me to engage with such ‘sensational’ articles in the morning after what had happened earlier. I needed something more refreshing.
I folded the paper and kept it away. I got my notebook and pen and started scribbling my journal. I was caught in that intense mood that I lost conscious of what was happening around me. At one point I posed to think as I looked straight on my paper on the table as my fingers played with my pen. Just turning my eyes to the left and to the right I saw feet of two men. They had well polished shoes and wore well ironed trousers.
Still not moving my head, I looked at my two bags both lying on my both sides. There was a sniffer-dog which seemed to be carrying out an order with articulation. I decided to look up and on my left stood a well built man with police uniform who wore a stern face. On his hands was a semi-automatic calibre weapon and stack on his waist belt was a glock pistol and his friend seemed to have the same paraphernalia too.
I don’t know what took my mind but I looked straight into the eyes of one of the officer and asked him, ‘what is going on here?’ I presume I should have been the one answering that question from the police. The police officer smiled and literary laughed for what I thought was the lack of an answer to my question. The same was happening at the other end of the coffee shop.Dogs sniffing and officers on the look out for anything suspicious. This brought back old memories when growing up as I wanted to one day become a soldier and serve nations.
We exchanged few pleasantries and they left.At times we may not like police and their actions but these men and women work round the clock to secure our streets from terror and keep it clean from drugs. Kudos to London Police!!