THE other week my friend texted me.
" Hi Janice. Just to let you know that the trains to Airdrie are off."
"Thanks for the heads up," I replied. "I'll head straight to the bus station."
So at 5pm I dashed out of the office hoping to get to Buchanan Bus Station before the rush.
Chuffed that I was ahead of the game I inquired at the desk. "Which bus do I get to Airdrie?"
"No buses to Airdrie from here," came the stern reply.
"You need to go to Renfield Street (where I had just come from) and look for a number 2 bus."
Heavy bags in hand I turned about and ran back towards Renfield Street.
As luck would have it (my luck, that is) the bus stop I needed was the very last one in Renfield Street.
Just then my daughter texted me: "Hi mum, I'll head in for you; it'll only take 20 minutes."
"Don't be daft," I texted back. "I'm at the bus stop now. I'll be home before you know it."
Little did I know!
I fished out a fiver and waited. And waited. And waited. Forty minutes later I spotted a number 2 bus and waved for it to stop.
"A single to Airdrie please."
"£4.75," was the reply.
I handed over £5 and looked all around the screen in front of me before naively asking: "Where does my change come out?"
"It doesn't," was the automated reply, as though he has said the same thing a million times.
"What do you mean it doesn't?"
"No change given," replied the robotic driver nodding towards the sign.
"So if I had given you a tenner I still wouldn't get change?"
"That's right," he confirmed.
I was fuming at the cheek of it. However, it was now 5.45pm and I was just relieved to be finally seated and heading home.
After 15 minutes of continuously stopping and starting we reached Barrowlands when on stepped two scruffy vagabonds who were somewhat inebriated, each of them balancing a fish supper in their hand.
Staggering up the aisle, one plonked himself on the seat next to me and one in front of me.
"Hi hen," slobbered one as the bus pulled off.
"Hi," I smiled back, not wanting to enter into any sort of conversation but too scared not too reply in case he was offended.
"Fancy a chip?" he kindly offered, while sticking the poke of chips and sauce into my face.
"No thanks. My dinner will be ready when I get home," I lied.
"Oh. You've got your man well trained," he winked at his buddy in front.
I nodded and thought. There's no point in adding to this conversation.
"Are you married?" he boldly asked which embarrassed me further as I could see heads turning to look to see the lucky person engaged in this conversation.
Trying not to absorb the alcohol fumes I admitted "No I'm not."
"Yer not? A bonnie lass like yourself?"
His sloshed buddy quickly butted in. "Aye you've got a braw face hen ... fur a wumin your age!!!"
The bus was boiling hot, the smell was overwhelming and my new bus buddies were in the mood for a party.
"Where the hell are we," I desperately wondered, squinting out the window and trying not to look as if I desperately wanted off.
"Why don't you get off at Shettleston hen.
" Me and Eddie are going for a drink."
"No thanks." I forced a smile. "I've got to meet somebody in Airdrie C'mon hen, you look like you could do with a wee half cider," offered Eddie.
"I certainly could,". I replied again,"But I need to get straight home."
IT was a stifling evening and I was getting more agitated as every time the bus turned a corner or came to an abrupt halt my bus buddy, Eddie squashed me against the window with wafts of stale booze and chips catching me now and then.
With Shettleston approaching and attempting to balance Eddie rose.
"Last chance," he offered while trying hopelessly to get his finger to align with the buzzer on the bus.
"Thanks anyway," I smiled with relief.
"You enjoy your drink."
On texting my daughter my whereabouts she replied "Just Shettleston!"
"You're kidding," she replied.
"Shouldn't be long now," I reassured her as it looked like we were finally on the home straight.
But suddenly the bus diverted off the main road and then turned into a housing estate.
Almost immediately we stopped again to pick up a passenger.
Then, we literally turned right and stopped again.
The girl behind me sighed" "We've only driven 30 yards and we've stopped again."
Arghhhh!!!. At least I wasn't the only frustrated passenger on this bus.
Two hours and 54 bus stops later, sweating, starving and in need of a wee half cider I stepped off the bus and thought to myself: "Next time I get offered of a lift, I'll definitely be taking it!"