Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The Tuesday Tantrum

Good evening one and all, may I welcome you into the haven of all that is to be despised, spat at and generally moaned about. For today is the day of the tantrum, the day to let your hair down, and the day to poke someone in the eye, if that will help (which sometimes it does, but only if you can run really fast, and if it doesn't hurt them very much). If I can just make one small comment before I start, this is a weekly malarkey, but that doesn't mean I only have a tantrum once a week, it's just that I like to, well, focus.

When I read the comments to my last tantrum I was literally stabbing my finger on my desk and going 'Yes! You're right! That gets me too!' and I had a whole thing planned for the way that people can't even seem to speak properly now, and have a language of their own, and don't even get me started on the spelling, and even a topic as dear to my heart as that has been superseded by today's tantrum.

Public transport.

Now first of all, because some of the readers here aren't from the UK, I'm going to need to do a bit of an explanation. First of all, I have to catch something called a bus. You'll note the use of the word 'catch'. That implies that it is something elusive, something you have to work hard to get, something not always within reach.

That is a bus.

It's quite a big vehicle, which seats quite a lot of people, you can stand up on them too, and sometimes they have an upstairs as well, but there are stairs, not an elevator, to the top bit. It generally smells a little bit like a public toilet and so do some of the people on it. It travels on roads.

The other one is called a train. It is made up of a number of carriages, the people tend to smell a bit better, and it does not have an upstairs. It does however have a First Class, which you do not go in unless you are travelling on business and someone is paying for your ticket, or you are frightfully posh, in which case you have probably got your chauffeur to drive you instead of having to mix with those ghastly people. Some of them also have something called a Quiet Zone, which means you cannot use a mobile phone, talk loudly, play music or generally disturb your fellow commuters. And if you sneeze at more than a moderate range of decibels, you are instantly shot. It travels on tracks.

I should mention that where I live, there is technically a third option, called a tram, or the Metro. This is a sort of cross between a bus and a train. It goes on tracks, but the tracks are on the road. It is slower than a train. It is slower than a bus. If you are a brisk walker, it is slower than you.

Today's tantrum was inspired by my little jaunt yesterday, which turned out to be not so little after all. I caught the bus (on time-ish, not too smelly, no spitting), and then went to catch the train. I arrived at the station 15 minutes early - when you are a commuter, you find that you will leave your home approximately 5 hours before you need to, which allows for delays. So I built in a buffer for the bus being late, it wasn't, got to the railway station in plenty of time. The train was late. 30 minutes late, so I had 45 minutes to kill at the station. Apparently the driver hadn't turned up in Manchester, where the train started. Oh well, that's all right then. It's not as if we were depending on him. Oh, we were?

So of course I arrived late for the meeting, had the meeting, no lunch (oh that is SO another blog post) and got on the train to come back. It was on time. In fact I even had to do a little woman commuter jog up the platform. This is instantly recognisable as being the jog that a woman in a suit and high heels does to catch a train, and ultimately means that it is slower than actually walking, but you pinwheel your arms a bit more. Marvellous. On the train, train pulls away, no smelly people, buy a sandwich that is approximately equal in price to the National Debt, and settle in. Train pulls in at the first station, stops to let people off, let people on, and then pulls away. Except it doesn't. The pulling away bit. Because someone, further up the line, has thrown themselves in front of the train in front of mine. This is disturbingly more frequent of an event than you would imagine. We are made to get off the train. The line is closed. Nothing to be done. No offers of alternative transport, the swell of commuters ever increasing until we are packed like sardines on the platform, with nowhere to sit.

For two and a half hours. TWO AND A HALF HOURS.

When the line re-opens, I find that my train, my lovely train, has disappeared off the face of the earth. No train to Wolverhampton. I could go to Glasgow. Or Manchester. I expect if I set my mind on it I could go to Venus. But not where I live.

And that's why this week that my tantrum is about public transport. Because it's late, it makes me stand in the cold, and it doesn't drop me off at my house.

It's like being married again.

However on a much brighter note - the lovely David at Authorblog has awarded me a Post of the Day for Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes. How lovely! So get yourselves over to see him, and see what other blogs he's mentioned too, they're fab.

If I were you though, I'd get a taxi.


Katney said...

I've come from David's and I am wandering about a bit here to see what you are about. I am curious. As, obviously you DID get home, what did you do next?

Being incredibly rural, we have very little public transit. I am hoping my car lasts a couple more years and a few thousand more miles, and that the price of gas for my commmute does not bypass my daily earnings.

Lola said...

You keep giving me ideas for blog posts that I haven't time to write at the moment. Like, the way that the British deal with hitches in public transport - from the ones who go as far as rolling their eyes, to the ones who start yelling at some dead-faced official, with exactly comparable results.

Then there are the people who buck the trend. I used to commute with a friend, same train line as you from the sound of it, and he had some non-standard solutions: he would stand on the platform and shout "Anyone want to share a taxi to Leamington?"

Iain said...

As a blind person, I have free transport on buses, trains and ferries throughout Scotland so I can't really complain about the cost of public transport. This of course doesn't allow me into first class and if I should stray across the border, I have to put my hand in my pocket. However, I do have to pay the exorbitant prices for the stuff that masquerades under the name "tea" as sold from the in-train trolley service. Perhaps the price is so high because it isn't really exactly tea. Add what is laughingly called a cake and the price really rockets. Having said all that, I suppose if I really want to complain about the price of in-journey food, I should reserve my strongest comments for what is sold on the cut-price airlines or the prices in motorway services.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Well done on the post of the week award. Great stuff. I can't even begin to say what I think of public transport in this country - it drives me to distraction and so bloody expensive too.

I am so glad you are blogging regularly again.

aims said...

Public transport? With other people? Oh dear.....

Anonymous said...

Stick to the car. It's less smelly and you can listen to your own voice!!

Great blog!
CJ xx

Millennium Housewife said...

Let me introduce you to the car, if you'd like to try it out I'll have my chauffer pick you up, I'll slum it in first class. MH

GoneBackSouth said...

I know where to go for a good rant! I hate hideous journey days.

travelling, but not in love said...

I take public transport all the time - taxi's here, there and everywhere.

I can occasionally be lured into a first class carriage on a train, but really, the bus?

And if you think that a West Midlands bus smells bad, you should try taking a flight on Air France at the end of the day, in the middle of B.O. season....

Nicely written. I love a rant.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

Boy does this take me back (several times) to similar disruption when those inconsiderate bastards choose, as their last act, the disruption of the lives of many others.

Then the police designate the whole effing thing as a "crime scene", so whereas it should take the cleaners 10 mins to scrape the rails the police take 2.5 hours to fingerprint themselves.

OK dead person, so I'm sorry you were depressed, but in your next life get a dog instead.

Working mum said...

Hi! Came via Wife in the North. Love the rant about public transport. Public waiting more like!

You forgot that the Metro often doesn't turn up and, despite having a tanoy system in the stations, no-one tells you why or when it will return. And what about building a Metro station at the City of Manchester Stadium but not actually running any trams to it? Mad!

Tina said...

Welcome Katney. Eventually, the trains started again. Or I walked home. Yes, definitely one of those.

Ah Lola, I certainly do the taxi thing when I'm in a taxi rank if it means I'll get a taxi quicker. Great idea to do it on the platform!

Iain, don't even get me started on the price of a BLOODY BAG OF CRISPS on a train.

MOB, you up for an award woman you! It's good to be back, thank you.

Aims, I know. I'm just common, but with inbuilt snobbery, which is a scary combination!

Crystal, how lovely to see you. Will be over to check up on your goings on.

MH, you sound like my sort of woman! Will be over to check on you too!

GBS, you are always welcome here, I rant, therefore I am.

TBNIL, thank you. I forgot you were experienced in West Midlands ways! Your travelling is so much nicer than mine.

Ernest, welcome. You're bang on. There are surely other ways to top yourself? That don't interfere with my plans? Of course there are.

Working Mum, hello! Shall be over to check on you too! Trams don't even have the decency to have toilets on them, and you're on the bloody things longer than you're at work.