About ten years ago the hospital where I work made some extra parking spaces available for free about a mile away in the car park of a rugby club. Staff can either pay to park at the hospital or park for free in the rugby club. There is a free courtesy minibus available for those who do not want to walk the mile to work.

Ten years back I took this as a chance to get some exercise on work days. I always walk from the rugby club except in extreme weather conditions, and so generally I do not use the bus. On the few occasions I have used it I really dread getting on it. Everyone sits by the window seat and has their bag on the seat next to them. They look down at their phones, ignore me as I inch in next to one of them, and they are very reluctant to move their bags to let me sit down. In the past I have heard bitchy comments from passengers about ‘how some people only use the bus in bad weather‘.

However, yesterday was the first time I had used the bus in a couple of years. At 7am it was absolutely tipping down with rain, and I didn’t fancy sitting at my desk all morning soaking wet. With a heavy heart I parked my car, put on my mask, and got on the bus.

The bus looked quite full on first glance. As usual everyone sat by the window with their bag on the seat next to them and stared down at their phones. I stopped by one seat but the occupant carried on staring at her phone and left her bag where it was. I moved on to the next seat and the chap stared at his bastard phone and did not move his rucksack. Negative vibes assailed the air instead of Christmas cheer. Growing somewhat irate I used the chap’s rucksack as a backrest and perched on the edge of the seat next to him. He didn’t say anything, did not move his bag, and carried on staring at his phone.

All of a sudden I heard “You can’t sit there!” I looked up and a woman a couple of rows down had stood up and was staring straight at me. When I asked her what the problem was she said that because of the pandemic nobody could sit next to anybody else. The chap next to me continued to stare at his phone as if I wasn’t there.

I had not been aware of the new rules as I hadn’t used the bus in ages. What the hell does it matter where we sit? The doors of the bus have to close and everyone breathes the same air for Pete’s sake! I stood up and walked to the very end of the bus, where there was one single seat left by the window. We all travelled in silence for the five minutes or so it took to reach the hospital grounds.

What is wrong with these people? Just because I only use the bus in bad weather, why should they have a problem with that? The bus is free to anybody who wants to use it, and I’m not taking anybody else’s seat. I don’t use the bus regularly simply because I prefer the exercise. I felt a great relief on stepping down from that bus. It’s going to take a 10ft snowstorm for me to use it again!