A few days ago I was on my way to work as usual. There I was at the bus stop in Abbey Rd waiting patiently but with hope for a 12 or a 12A to whisk me up to the depot to start work when He and She, She pushing a baby buggy, arrived at the stop. He looked at the time table but I could tell he wasn't really understanding what he was seeing. I have heard time tables described as getting the most information on the smallest amount of paper(1) and if you are not used to them they are as incomprehensible as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Reading time tables should be on the National Curriculum. So I asked them where they were going, Customer care skills don't shut down just because I haven't signed on. Brixham came the reply but it did sound like f*** off. Never mind. "Go down the hill to the pedestrianised street, past Tesco's to the phone boxes. There are two bus stops there, you want the second. You should get the 12, not the 12A as it takes longer. And if you are coming back get DayRider tickets." I could tell he wasn't really listening and then he asked what was the point in going down a pedestrianised street. Buses can't go down there. Well they do. The alternative is Belgrave Rd and that would be far worst than going down Fleet St. "How come you know it all?" he demanded. I pointed at the Stagecoach logo on my anorak (no comments please, I know I am an anorak). "Trust me on this. I drive a bus."
Anyway, of they went down the hill towards Fleet St. They hadn't gone 50 yards when a 12A came up the hill. Fine for me but no use what ever for then. So what does he do when the bus stops to pick me and other passengers up. He comes running back up the hill towards the bus with baby buggy being pushed desperately some way behind. I shrugged my shoulders, it was another bus drivers problem now. "Wait." he shouted as he boarded the bus. "My wife's just coming." I'd gone and sat down by now, I'm out of it.
Wife was half on the bus with buggy when he asked the driver if the bus went to Brixham. The driver said, truthfully,"No." and started to tell him exactly what I had. He didn't bother to listen to the full instructions but turned to get off the bus almost tripping over baby in the buggy but still managing the proclaim loudly what everyone on the bus already knew. "We're on the wrong f****** bus."
I got to work and went about my job in my usually cheerful, content, happy way putting the incident out of my mind. Until that is a few hours later I turned up in Brixham driving a 12A. And guess who was there waiting for a bus. Right in one. He gets on and asks for two singles to Torquay. Now didn't I tell him to get DayRider tickets? Two DayRiders are £8.00, four single tickets to and from Brixham works out at £11.20. still more money for the company so whats the problem. Well there are two problems about travelling on this particular bus to Torquay. The first is it takes about 20 minutes longer than the 12. That alone is enough reason to wait for the 12. The second is that on the particular trip I was about to make I usually picked about 35 students up at South Devon College and then about 45 school children from Paignton Community College. Actually the children are generally very nice and better behaved than the students but they have just come out of school and tend to be a little noisy. I explained the first problem but was told, "We just want to get back to Torquay. This bus goes to Torquay?" So I admitted that it did and sold him the two singles. I am sure they enjoyed the trip as much as they enjoyed everything else they had done that day.
I should point out that incidents like this are rare; which is probably why I remember them.
Footnote (1) By Mr. C. Hilditch MD.