Something new doesn’t have to be death-defying, just a break from a routine is enough to set my bowels into overdrive.
I watched the bin lorry pull up at the car park opposite. It was the crack of dawn, the world was waking up and my stomach was like a glass of Alia-Seltzer.
I was sitting in a bus shelter, waiting for the bus but feeling like I was waiting for the dentist. I hadn't sat on a bus in years.
In Scotland, you get a free bus pass when you turn sixty, and mine had been burning a hole in my larger-than-life purse since lockdown. The thought of a free ride niggled me, and as the restrictions had lifted, I saw my chance. On a promise of a few proseccos with girls, I dusted off my “going-out” mask and booked a seat.
We were gonna paint the town a mild shade of pink.
It seemed a good idea at the time but as the whole adventure loomed closer I started to feel agitated, riding on a bus is hardly water rafting up the Amazon, but something new does set my teeth on edge.
It was a two-hour trip, a long time for a bladder of a certain age.
There was a time when I happily jumped on a bus without a care in the world, when I had the sort of bladder that could hold a keg of beer, even with a good sneeze.
Back then, the thought of driving had me as sweaty as a wrestler's jockstrap. I was terrified of city driving, motorways made me sick to my stomach, and every time a police car drove by I froze, thinking I had done something wrong.
Not now, I have driven all over Scotland to see my hubby. Conjugal rights can do that to a woman, force her to overcome her biggest fears. I can now face those god-awful roundabouts on the “M-what ever” as casual as a lorry driver. And thanks to my trusty sat-nav, not only do I know where I am going but every pee stop on the way.
I never get caught short in a car.
But today I was as agitated as my first day at school. All the dysfunctional fears of missing the bus had set me on edge like a dozen expressos.
My mother, a control freak, my father on the cusp of Aspergers, had me early for everything, fearful of being late, missing things, which led to me being ‘the first” and feeling like a dickhead; just like I did in that bus shelter.
I was the only one there with 20 minutes to kill.
I watched the binmen clutter along the pavement, already missing my morning coffee.
Relax I told myself and when that didn't work I took a deep yoga inhale, and let it out------nothing. I pressed my forefinger against a nostril, inhale, exhale, thumb to the other nostril, inhale, exhale.
I swear I saw the bin man stare.
He didn’t look the sort that breathed for relaxation. He looked the sort who thought yoga was a type of yogurt and heavy breathing was something he did on top of a woman. I’m not a dick head, I wanted to shout…instead shifting uncomfortably on a cold ledge I watched the lorry disappear into the sunrise, grateful for my mask.
He had no idea my face was red and being Scottish probably never used the word dickhead.
The bus pulled up.
Its door slid open, and I with a smile wasted behind my mask attempted a casual alighting jump.
“I’ve got my day out mask on” I joked.
The driver stared at me with the irritation of a teenager listening to his mother trying to be funny.
He gestured to the card machine.
“Face up,” he snapped.
I fumbled some more, my face hot behind my mask.
“I said face-up” he growled.
I looked at the three passengers, they stared out the window.
I fumbled again, my technology joke taking a nose dive so bad I have now forgotten it.
He grabbed my card, flicked it over the machine, and with “a here’’ handed it to me.
The bus lurched into first gear.
I stumbled into a seat.
“You can’t sit there” he shouted.
I moved on.
The three passengers stared at me like I was half-cut.
How about a sign….I wanted to yell then saw the sign and blushed.
I truly felt like a dickhead.
The bus pulled into the next stop.
A blond bounced on.
“Isn’t it cold” she joked, expertly managing her sixty-plus card.
He said nothing started the bus catching her stagger to the front seat.
“You can’t sit there”. He hissed.
She glanced at me and I at her… and contact was made.
A few hours and a few proseccos later I waited at the bus stop for the return journey home.
Having retold the story over a bottle or two I was feeling smug. I had exaggerated the story for laughs, with a new technology joke (which now, sober, I can’t remember.) I even had the barman on the edge of his seat, until I went too far, told him I put the driver in his place.
Paranoia is a great storyteller.
I was waiting in the cold, my bladder reassuringly empty as the blond from the morning appeared.
“I wouldn’t worry about him,” she said. “He’s like that with everyone, they usually put him on the school run. Keeps the kids in line.”
“All aboard” yelled a chirpy-looking bus driver.
I jumped on, expertly sliding my card like a pro.
“Good day?” He asked.
“Excellent,” I said safely landing on a legal seat.
The blond threw me a knowing look.
I threw her one back.
It had been a brilliant day and despite my anxious feelings of missing the bus I had made it back not only in one piece but with a comrade traveler. I could do this again I thought, then turned to the blond, “how was your day?”
And before she could answer, I launched into my story that had her sleeping like a baby.
The bus driver it seemed heard everything.
As I jumped up for my stop and waited for the door to open, he, with a chuckle turned to me.
“I wouldn’t worry bout that driver,” he said, “ he’s a total dickhead”.