Sleeping on the bus. Head falling forward inch by inch, as the dribble edges its way down the side of my face. Did I snore, and did anybody notice? Did my head just nod forward for a split second of have I been going around on the route for hours? Seems to be the same faces around me; the same cocky fuck-punctuating teenage arseface voice parping up from the back of the bus; same dull drizzle running down the window; same... zzzzzzzzzzzzz
I could just curl up on the seat; I’m sure no one would mind. Although a sudden touch of the breaks could send me cascading to the floor into a roll that lodges me firmly beneath the seat in front of me. Arms and legs tucked in and unable to free myself; trapped in my new life under the seat, feeding only on the unique bio-cultures growing on the saliva enzymes from second hand chewing gum. This is the inevitable penalty of bus sleep complacency syndrome. Do not succumb to it. You may think nothing bad could happen from a few seconds of subtle shuteye on the shuttle service from Woodford to Manchester. You are wrong. But I am not living proof. No, I lived to tell the tale. You may not be so lucky. And if you did find yourself trapped and starving, lodged under seat, don’t expect any help from those around you. Nobody cares. According to research cited in The Tipping Point (£2.50 from Cancer Research) the more members of the public witness someone desperately in need of help, the less likely that person is to receive help. Witnesses assume that someone else will call the police or step up to intervene, and as a result nobody does anything. It’s illustrated with the sadly real case of Kitty Genovese who in 1960s Queens, NY was murdered outside her home in an attack lasting more than half an hour, with between 12 and 39 witnesses none of whom did anything.
While this is clearly more terrifying than my stupid bus fantasy, I did see a scummy teenage smack a middle aged woman on the back of her head incredibly hard as he walked down the bus. He definitely didn’t do it on purpose, his bag swung against her head, but it hit with such force that he cannot possibly have failed to notice. However he didn’t respond; no sorry, and no are you ok? Not even a glance or basic acknowledgement of a fellow human being. He just walked on and alighted the bus. Everyone else on the bus gasped as the bag struck the poor lady... but nobody, myself included, did a thing about it. Nobody grabbed this toerag by the shoulder and commanded listen you arrogant little shit, apologise to the lady, ask her if she’s ok, you just fucking hit her. He swaggered down the street; one of those side-to-side lunging limps, one hand in the front of his pants, which is completely unfathomable to normal people like you and I.
But then the thick CO2 heavy air, the rocking motion of the engine and the gentle drumming of rain against the window lulled me back into sudden and uncontrollable drowsing, and I missed the next few minutes. Perhaps the young scallymanc suddenly sprang a social conscious, hopped back on the bus and apologised not just to the suffering lady, but the whole of civilised society for his previous detriment and damage. I have a dream....