Grumpy Old Man

Today’s post contains a certain amount of swearing, for which I apologise. It’s not my swearing, I’m just the narrator here, but like secondary smoke it still leaves its own mark.

The subject of my tale is an old bearded guy who is on my bus every morning. He sits reading for most of the journey in the front seat upstairs, and I sit just behind him, writing and listening to my iPod.

As we get about a mile from the city centre he puts away his book and I start to pack up my netbook.

Normally I leave the iPod on until the stop before mine, but one morning about a fortnight ago I took it off a couple of stops early and suddenly clearly heard him grumbling “oh, fuck’s sake, what’s he at“. I listened more closely, as you do, and realised that he was swearing at the driver downstairs.

I’m ashamed to say that I started putting my iPod away each morning as soon as he put his book away so that I could listen along. If he thinks he’s doing it under his breath, trust me he isn’t.

He has set standards that no driver could possibly live up to. The fact that there is other traffic on the road is no excuse for tardiness. After each stop we have to pull back out into the stream of cars, none of whom are happy to let a large bus out and be stuck behind it, so they all pass by leaving the bus sitting indicating patiently. “Fucking Jaysus, come on,” he’ll mutter, quite audibly.

Perhaps he thinks he’s in Kitt from Knight Rider, and we can jump traffic.

It’s not just the driver with whom he’s unhappy. One morning a girl’s mobile rang. Now it was 7.30 am, she did speak very loudly about total shite (sorry, that swearing was mine) for far too long, but that’s what happens on public transport. The rest of us just wrote her off as a twit, but he stared furiously across at her for the entire duration of her call.

We regularly get held up behind delivery vans parked in the bus lane while they, well, deliver. “Ah, get out of the fucking way“, he’ll moan.

He glowers at every passenger as they troop downstairs at any stop, obviously feeling that they should speed up the disembarking process by hurling themselves through a window instead.

As it’s the first bus of the morning, leaving Greystones before seven, it’s never totally packed but yesterday morning it was quite full, so a girl suddenly appeared beside him and motioned at him to move his bag from the seat so she could sit down.

I thought he was going to explode. I was amazed that she was able to sit there. I thought that the aura of sheer hatred emanating from him as he moved his bag onto his lap would act as a force field that she would just bounce off. If she had burst into flames under the glare of his glare I would not have been at all surprised.

When she got off he turned to stare at her departing rear as she made her way down the stairs (I have to admit that I did too, but only because she was quite attractive, and sorry, that‘s what men do). He then turned his fierce gaze onto her as she made her way up the street, not stopping until we had passed her and she was far out of sight.

As he looked sideways out the window I was able to study his face. I described him earlier as an old man, since his straggly beard and sour expression make him at first glance appear so, but having looked more closely at him I doubt now that he’s 60 yet, which makes him not that much older than me.

He obviously has enormous stress issues, and reminds me far too much of the overwound, sleep-deprived, internally-seething me of not too long ago.

I kept my iPod playing this morning, since I don’t find him entertaining anymore. I feel sorry for him, and hope that he gets some sort of help.

I could so easily have been him.

10 thoughts on “Grumpy Old Man

  1. Jo

    So glad you’re not – and your perspective is a wise one. I wish more people could think like that about other people’s behaviour and not write them off so much.

  2. Elaine

    I think I’d be doing the same and keeping my ipod in for the duration of the journey. It must be hard for the ‘old’ man on the bus to be so cross about things – his stress levels must be extremely high.

  3. Inspiration to Dream

    I agree with what Tilly says.

    If only people could step outside their bodies and realise how stupid they sound. It does serve to remind all of us how stupid we too could look.

    Also shows that no-one should have to be that miserable. If life is that bad then fix it

  4. Tinman Post author

    I’m glad you all feel so sympathetic to him too. I’m not sure that I’m ready to sit beside him yet, Viv, but you have made me think. Occasionally he is also on my bus in the evening and he gets on after I do, and I know that he recognises me as a fellow morning passenger, so from now on I’m going to nod a greeting and smile to see if I can get him to smile back.


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