night bus edinburgh

I WAVE THE day ticket at the uninterested driver. For all he knows, it’s a piece of plain paper. The automaticity of his job, the rote part of the brain doesn’t register on the night bus. A home to silent humans, allowing the bumps and noises of the machine to form the soundtrack.
Looking space is highly sought after. Eye contact is strongly discouraged – don’t even look yourself in the reflection of the window, because there will be a set of eyes looking back that aren’t your own.  Cursed are the ones who have to sit facing all other eyes, feeling the watchers read their minds cover to cover.

The top deck is off-limits to those over 30, a land where the lewd and ropey rule, alongside cans that roll from one end to the next every five minutes. UV light adds a sinister touch as if to say, shoot up by all means but not on here.

On top of all this you are forced to look outward at people who avoid the ignominy of public transport in extra shiny metal cars, content, calm and lost in their own heads or music. Stall you bastards! But no, they roll on, and roll on past. Home soon. Sicko’s.

A dodgy looking drunkard fails to materialise ruining the authenticity – a stereotypical passenger, who wants always, of all the empty seats, the one next to me. Only saggy grey haired people riding for free look happy – all others feel peeved, resentful of the bone life has thrown them. I must travel amidst others?! What kind of twisted hell is this? With fogged up windows and a day’s stale air. Madness!

Each stop piques the interest. Who’s getting on? Who’s getting off? New faceless people come and go, tickets get issued, passes get scanned. Meanwhile, everyone sits as far away as possible from another person depending on the combination available. Sometimes, someone has to sit next to another person they don’t know, an edge of the seat journey for them, desperately trying to avoid knocking a knee against them. And as soon as another seat becomes vacant they jump and lurch for freedom, for their own personal space, dumping a bag on the outside to prevent any unwanted raids, wanting to keep the inner circle free of stranger. I find, an empty packet of crisps and the hood up works a charm.

repost: 2014


  1. I can so relate to this story! I used to have to ride the bus and someone would always sit next to me when there were a ton of empty rows! Ugh! Still irritates me to this day:-) Very well written, pulled me in.

    1. Much appreciated Jenn.
      I’d say 75% of the time, the resident bus wierdo chooses a seat by me or near me. I think maybe evryone feels like thats the case. Avoiding eye contact is key lol

  2. Are buses really like that nowadays? It’s been a long time since I hid upstairs on a double-decker. Does that make me one of the sickos? [except my car isn’t extra shiny, or new!]

  3. As someone who hasn’t learned to drive yet, I was nodding in agreement to every word! Travelling by bus by night becomes a stupidly tense experience, especially if you happen to be sober!

  4. Travel by bus can be a trying experience. I’ve had my share of it. I didn’t own a car until I was 27! Great story. You captured the difficulty of sharing public space on wheels well.

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