Think of a perfect, ideal morning. Add a bus. Now it’s the opposite of that. Welcome to my mornings. I have been reading a lot of articles about the dismal state of Public Transport in Malta. As a student who has been using buses four times a day for the past four years, I have become somewhat an authority on the subject. I have stockpiled my fair share of interesting episodes: on a bus ride anything can happen, and believe me it does. Then, just to spice things up, you meet one of the following people:
The One Who Can’t Keep A Queue
On early mornings, buses have a tendency of coming to your bus stop almost full. If there are twenty people on the bus stop, and only two spaces left, please let the people who were there first take them. Chances are they are even later than you are, and it is extremely frustrating to see your place being filled by someone who showed up five minutes ago when you have been waiting for thirty.
The One Who Pays With Notes
The bus fare is small change. Unless you want the driver to shout and swear at you for the next fifteen minutes, please produce coins. No one likes to hear a bus driver rant. Especially a Maltese bus driver.
The One Who Will Not Move His Stuff
I will be the first to admit that when I get on a bus and the seat next to me is empty, I use it to unload my bag. However, if you see people getting on, especially if the bus is full, please remove the bags. It is extremely uncomfortable to almost beg: ‘May I sit here?’ when the seat is obviously free. Not to mention, that you, the innocent party, come across as being antagonistic.
The One Who Stares
You pay, sit down, put your change in your pocket (if it’s graciously given to you at all), and take out a book. You feel Eyes on you. The person opposite you is gazing wide-eyed at your bag, at your book, at your clothes. You smile politely and get back to whatever you were doing. When you look again, the person is still staring. Admittedly the view isn’t much, but you could always look out the window. Or get your own book.
The One With The Loud Music
This might be the most annoying thing on the list. We get it: the music you’re listening to is God’s gift to humanity. But must you share so loudly with the rest of the unfortunate beings on the sardine tin-like bus? Some of us have headaches, are going home after a long day at work, or just simply don’t like your music. Please invest in some earphones or turn it off.
The One Who Will Not Move Back
We’ve all heard the infamous bus driver cry: “Move back please!” If the driver sees people standing up next to him he will assume that the bus is full up and not stop to let poor souls who have been waiting forever on the bus stop. Therefore, if you’re standing up, please go as far back as you can. It’s only right.
The One Who Is Chatty
After a long day on campus or after work, the last thing I feel like is making small talk with someone I haven’t seen for eight odd years. As an avoidance tactic, a book or an mp3 usually works. Yet, every so often despite these obvious barriers, I find myself making small talk on the bus. Also under this category, are people whom you don’t know from Adam, yet feel that it is perfectly acceptable to engage in deep conversation about excessive taxes or the weather. Please don’t: respect other people’s privacy.
The One On The Phone
If it’s early morning, the bus will be (thankfully) quiet. Then a particularly cringe worthy ringtone goes off and someone decides to share their conversation with the rest of the select population on the bus. Remember: if no-one is talking, everyone is listening. Keep your voice down and your conversations private.
The One Who Will Not Get Up For The Elderly
It’s rule number one for people with good manners – even Enid Blyton mentions it once or twice in her books. If you see elderly people standing up on the bus, give them your seat. It will make you feel really good inside and you’ll have done your good deed of the week.
The One Who Insists On Fresh Air
I understand that it is flu season and people are afraid of catching a cold from someone who might be sick on the bus. However, I fail to see the necessity of a wide open window in the middle of January. Just because it’s not raining doesn’t mean people aren’t freezing their toes off!
Related articles: Maltabuses & how to use them (routes, fares info etc)
Photo: Walter Lo Cascio
Elizabeth Ayling says
I agree – this time of year, it’s not too too hot, so a bit of fresh air would be ideal rather than icy or germ-generating aircons. My son always feels sick in cars and my father in the UK refuses to open the car window saying the aircon is fine. It isn’t! So I can imagine the same goes for passengers on Arriva. Shame the buses don’t have upper windows. I was on Stagecoach buses in the UK recently, not Arriva in my old home town, and they do have windows. Prob no aircon though, but in the UK, it’s rarely needed! Swings and roundabouts isn’t it!
Now there are new buses (the “Arriva”)… these don’t even possess windows that can be opened but an “AC” instead….it’s really frustrating though since when people are sick you would want fresh air not an AC which circulates the same air over and over again! And sometimes the driver refuses to turn on the AC! Even in the heat of summer!
There’s a good side to everything.
When the bus passes when I’m just 20 metres away from the bus stop, I don’t panic and run; I think “No problem, buses arrive 3-at-a-go, of which this is probably the first…”
Neville Bezzina says
While I love the time warp theory and have shared it many times with fellow commuters during the interminable periods I spend waiting on bus stops, I think the more common explanation for this mystery is simply lack of foresight from whoever designs the transport schedules.
Mike Silver says
Sounds like you’ve got exactly the same problems over there in Malta as we have here in the UK when it comes to buses.
Do you get no buses turning up for a while, then 2 or 3 turn up at once?? … that really bugs me, but I think it’s just one of those things, I think the buses must disappear into a time warp or something!?
Stephen Isabirye says
Well, Enid Blyton emphasized a lot of good manners for children, especially, which led me to write a book on her, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.bbotw.com).
I haven’t used a bus in ages for most of the reasons listed. Bus users do produce the worst in us as do most drivers in difficult situations. I suggest that we should always look for the sunny (or funny) side of things … at least it ‘s mor e pleasant.
“ahjar tidhaq mi8lli tibki, ghax tiddispra”
The worst thing is that most of those windows are stuck anyway and can’t be closed …
He he. I’m “the one who insists on fresh air”. I’d rather freeze to death than inhale the exhaust of 40 people.
The ones that bother me most are “the one who will not move back” and “the one who will not get up for the elderly”. Also “the one that throws stuff out of the the window”, and the worst is “the group of spanish/italian youths that have to disturb my peace with their loud and idiotic group singing”.
When you encounter something with which you disagree, you must voice your disagreement in the first 5 seconds; if you fail to do so, then just sit down in quiet frustration till the end of your ride.