Journey-in-a-Crowded-bus

A typical crowded London bus. Newer buses allow entry at the front, middle and back. Older ones (like our normal commuter) only allow entry at the front.

Nothing terribly exciting has happened since my last post. So I thought I’d share a little incident that we had on the bus the other day. Riding the big red double-decker buses to and from work was fun at first, but it’s much less fun during cold and flu season…or when you’re tired…or it’s busy and crowded…or it’s raining…or hot…or there’s a strike of any kind…or your kid is cranky. So ya, we really miss driving our car regularly and can’t wait to use it again in Iceland.

Sometimes it gets so crowded on the bus that, even if you start well before your designated stop, it’s hard to get from your seat on the top deck to the doors below because you have to shove your way through an unmoving mass of people. (And it’s always better to sit upstairs because the view is better, and because people aren’t allowed to stand on the top deck. So if it is jammed full of people…they’ll all be downstairs, and if you’re lucky enough to get a seat upstairs, you will have an inch of personal space.)

It’s also difficult for the driver to tell when everyone has finished leaving the bus when it’s busy. On older buses, they don’t want people to get off the bus to move for the people disembarking, like you do in a crowded subway car, because then they can’t tell who’s just getting back on and who’s trying to sneak on without paying at the front.

So on a couple occasions, we’ve had the doors close before we’ve actually gotten off the bus. On those occasions one usually yells loudly and presses the “stop” button repeatedly hoping the driver will notice and reopen the doors. Worse-case scenario is that you just walk back from the next stop.

A couple days ago, we were on a very crowded bus and had the rare experience of the doors closing on us…after our son had left the bus. It wasn’t a big deal in the moment…the doors started to shut on me, I stopped them with my forearms, shoved them open again and stepped calmly off the bus with my hubby behind me.

Unfortunately, our son witnessed this from where he was standing on the sidewalk…and FREAKED OUT. The poor little thing started screaming, “Mommy!” in true terror. Then he burst into tears, and was inconsolable for at least five minutes.

Since then he gets very nervous and agitated when we get near our stop, and he starts insisting that he has to get off the bus, that we have to hurry so we don’t get trapped, and that he has to hold both of our hands.

It’s been a very eye-opening experience coming from a kid who has been virtually fearless since birth. Who throws himself into swimming pools and off of ledges. He’s even run off from me in downtown London and disappeared around the corner (don’t get me started on THAT). And he barely notices when we drop him off at nursery school. He usually wants to run ahead through crosswalks rather than hold our hand.

So I don’t know if this is a new level of caring for us that he’s developed and thought I might get hurt by the doors, or a broadening sense of how vast his surroundings really are, and how small he is by comparison. But it was a moment of change nevertheless, and one I’m sure we will all remember for a long time.

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