I rode a bus cross country and a league from who knows where,
A young disabled girl boarded who couldn’t pay her fare,
She had a special permit which, alas, was out of date,
On her right leg she wore a brace, and walked with awkward gait.
“This pass expired a week ago,” the driver said with glee,
“You’ll have to buy a ticket ’cause you can’t come on for free.”
“But I’ve an empty purse,” the girl said, with a sullen face,
“And I can’t walk me ten miles to the town, not with my brace.
I have my cheque to cash at the Post Office, here’s my book,
My name is here, and my address.” The driver took a look.
“No good to me,” he said, “they could be stolen for’ll I know,
So if you haven’t got the fare,” he sneered, “it’s off you go.
There’s no free rides on this here bus, it’s not a charity,
Fare’s fair, if you can’t pay then it’s a-walkin’ that you be.”
Tears sprang to the girl’s eyes, she turned away, distressed and sad,
And me? well, I stepped in, a latter day Sir Galahad.
“I’ll pay her fare!” I cried, indignant at this little creep,
The sort of creature gives you nightmares when you go to sleep,
He looked at me with venom, but he let the poor girl on,
Then as I paid he swore beneath his breath and carried on.
She smiled at me, “Thank you,” she said, I nodded, doffed my hat,
Then went back to the seat I occupied, and that was that,
Or so I thought, but further down the road an old man came,
His pass was out of date as well, and like her he was lame.
“You people try it on,” the driver said with rising ire,
“This is the second time today somebody’s pulled a flyer.
This permit’s out of date, granddad, so if you want to ride
You’ll have to pay the fare: cough up, then go and sit inside.”
“I’ve only got my pension book,” the ancient rustic said,
The driver swore beneath his breath again, and turning red
Said: “Off you get, you old cretin, and use your legs and walk,
The exercise’ll do you good”, a most unkind retort.
“Hold fellow!” I exclaimed once more, “What is it makes you tick?
A heart of stone beats in your breast, or are you simply thick?”
I paid his fare and helped the old man climb aboard the bus.
The driver stared at me with daggers, then began to cuss:
“What do you think you are, some sort of bleedin’ gallant knight?
I’m sick of people like you interferin’, I was right,
This is a public vehicle, they have to pay to ride,
It’s not a friggin’ charity, the law is on my side.
Every day of my working life I have this sort of thing,
Spongers and thieves and crooks doin’ their petty pilferin’,
I’m just an honest driver, but my job I do correct,
And all I get is aggravation, spite and disrespect.”
He moaned and moaned and mumbled, so I went back to my seat,
I could have argued, but I thought it prudent to retreat,
There’s nothing to be gained by arguing with such a grouse,
A nasty little man, I thought, a bigot and a louse.
I disembarked then caught the train, and all the journey long
I thought about this ugly man, perhaps it turned him on
To wield his limited power in such a callous fashion,
Perhaps it got him excited, or gave him an orgasm.
Next day I had forgotten him for good, or so I thought,
But five months later saw his photograph in a report:
Bus driver murdered, said the paper on the inside page,
Man held by the police for killing in a drunken rage.
No doubt, it was the self-same man, the photograph was clear,
So was his image in my mind, despite a good half year.
Apparently a drunken youth had rode his bus that night,
The driver tried to throw him off, and there had been a fight,
The youth had pulled a Bowie knife and stabbed him in the chest,
The driver died five minutes later in a gory mess.
I found it difficult to find a grain of sympathy
For somebody like him, with such a harsh mentality.
Some people, it appears to me will go out of their way
To make life difficult for others every night and day,
They’re never satisfied unless they see somebody crawl,
Or put some undeserving person’s back against the wall:
The shop assistant who treats every customer like dirt,
The traffic cop who books them all, is always stiff and curt,
The secretary who treats every caller with disdain,
The sadist or school bully who enjoys inflicting pain,
The doctor who is so superior with everyone,
The magistrate who treats every drunk like a worthless bum,
The customer who bullies shopgirls who can’t answer back,
The skinhead thug who beats up immigrants because they’re black,
And certain busmen who delight in treating passengers
Like scum and vermin, not like respectable travellers.
Many victims of violent crimes are irreproachable,
But some are not, some are deserving and despicable,
This fellow got more than his just desserts, well, that’s a shame,
But really he had no one but his own fair self to blame.
Back To Poetry Index