26 to 31 August 2015
The rain continued into Wednesday morning so, yet again, I found myself on the bus. Yet again, the trees were blowing about wildly as I struggled through the desolate park and the rain was falling. By the time I got to work I was drenched. The office had a faint smell of dampness about it all morning because everyone who came through the door was dripping.
During the morning the wind and rain got worse, sheets of water flew past the window along with debris picked up by the strong gusts. Inevitably there were floods and diversions to get round them. In one area a car was actually stuck in the floodwater and our bus was stuck behind it. The man on the phone was not in the least impressed.
“You’re lying,” he said, “I can see other buses going past, why aren’t they stuck in this mythical flood?”
the temptation to tell him to get on one of these other buses was very strong but I resisted, “The buses you can see are run by a rival company and they don’t actually go down the road that’s flooded.”
“Well I walked down that road to get to the bus stop and I didn’t see any floods. You’re just a ****ing liar. Is there anyone with any brains in your office?”
At this point I put the phone down. There is only so much abuse one woman can take after all. Sadly, he called back and went through the whole process again with one of my colleagues with much the same result. After that he started on Facebook.
Where is my bus you muppets?
We still stood here in the pissing rain. 40 minute wait so far. Useless.
Customers have been stranded for over an hour in the wet and the rain. This is disgusting customer service.
You are morons!!! Where did you guys qualify? Could you not get some adults to work in your office? You guys continue to congratulate yourself on being spectacularly awful at your jobs.
…and on it went in the same vein for several hours. If the idiot spent more time walking to the place I told him rather than ranting on the Internet and the phone, he could have caught the bus and been where he wanted to go.
There were several other services disrupted by floods, one huge sinkhole in the middle of a main road and a tree down. This man was the tip of the iceberg. A lady got so cross that a fallen tree meant we couldn’t serve the area she wanted I was actually afraid she was going to have a heart attack. Another man said he was going to get a taxi and charge us, even though the taxi obviously wouldn’t be able to get there any better than we could. Sometimes I wish I could say what I actually feel rather than staying police and reasonable.
At some point in the middle of all the angry afternoon calls the rain must have stopped although I didn’t notice until I got outside and there was blue sky and watery sun. The path along the river was an obstacle course filled with huge puddles and debris dropped by the wind. There were a few hairy moments but I got to the other side with dryish feet. The Old School playground had become a lake as I passed but at least the water was confined to the ground and there was no one shouting in my ear about it.
It was raining again on Thursday morning and I wondered what the day would bring as I made my way to work. The path along the river didn’t seem like a good idea so I walked through the desolate park again, stopping to take a picture of an evening primrose flower, its heart shaped petals speckled with rain drops. The fence of the demolished TV studios was bright with pyracantha berries, orange and red and the first Michaelmas daisies have opened by the big stones.
The phones were busy again with people moaning about the flood diversions the day before. At least the horrible man had stopped posting insults on Facebook. Hopefully he’d seen the local TV news showing film of the flood with water bubbling up from nearby drains and houses flooded out. As he lived in the area a rather evil part of me hoped he came home to find the water flowing through his front room.
In the middle of it all there was a bit of contrast from the woman whose son had dropped his mini scooter into the road and a bus had run over it. She didn’t know what bus or the exact time and, as a consequence, we hadn’t been able to trace the driver. I’d already explained in writing that there were a number of buses in the area and we’d had no reports of anything like this happening. She called to say she wasn’t happy with this and wanted compensation for the scooter which, apparently, cost £400. She eventually went away when I gave her the number for our insurers but I’m pretty sure she will be back when they tell her they won’t pay up because insurers don’t compensate for the carelessness of pedestrians who drop things in the road. Sometimes I wonder if there’s anyone left in this country who’s willing to accept the consequences of their own actions?
With the mornings drawing in I’m waking in the dark again, at least until the clocks go back and, when I left home on Friday morning a huge pink cloud hung over the city. Soon it will be back to leaving home in the dark and watching the sun come up. Then my walks along the boardwalk will have to stop. While I still can I’m making the most of this route. The sun was just rising above the rowing club as I turned to walk under the bridge and the sky was infused with rosy pink. There were pigeons on the edge of the slipway. One of them photo Bombed my shot.
The old wood of the log pond posts glowed in the morning light and I thought how privileged I was to witness such a beautiful sight. Further on the swans glowed pink and a fisherman was setting up on the bank. For once I could understand the lure of standing on the riverbank waiting for the fish to bite.
On the boardwalk I was sad to see my first red leaf of the year. Autumn is on the way and it feels like summer passed us by. As I was about to climb the slope a noise caught my attention and I turned just in time to see two swans flying low over the river. I watched as they came in for an ungainly splash landing before I carried on to the office.
The phones were so busy we hardly had time to breathe. Mostly the calls were about Bank Holiday buses and prices for student passes. Thankfully these were all fairly quick but they were also unrelenting. The morning passed in a flash, with hardly a moment to notice Mia or Skye arriving. There was a slight lull in the middle of the day, just long enough to answer a couple of emails and then we were on to the Bank Holiday traffic chaos. Bristol, that car park waiting to happen, ground to a halt and the phones went mad with people moaning about missing buses. In the end we didn’t even bother to track them, we just explained the city was gridlocked and we had no idea how long the bus would take then moved on to the next call. Most people accepted this, a few argued, some shouted. There was nothing we could do either way.
Some young children had thrown bread for the swans as I came to the big stones on my way home. They passed me on the corner. Being very young they’d thrown whole slices onto the shingle and the gulls had come in to claim their share. For a while I watched one pen wrestling with a slice of bread, tossing it this way and that trying to break it into manageable pieces. All the while the gulls were awaiting their chance to pounce. There are always little dramas like these on the river and I love to watch them. In the end I left them to it and carried on past the empty tender tied up on the shore and under the bridge towards home.
The sunrise on Saturday was glorious, it seemed as if the sky was on fire. As I walked to work I could hardly take my eyes off it and I watched it change from fiery reds to palest rose as I made my way to Cobden Bridge . It’s a wonder I didn’t fall down a hole. A group of ducks were flying over the little boats and the river had barely a ripple. It seemed a shame to reach the slipway to walk along the jetty towards Horsehoe bridge and swap the beautiful sky for the office.
The phones were busy with Bank Holiday enquiries. The novelty of saying “We will be running a Sunday service on Bank Holiday Monday,” wore off in about two minutes. After that I wanted to scream. What is so difficult to understand we have eight Bank Holidays every year and all bus companies run a Sunday service for each one except Christmas Day when there’s no service at all. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt quite as snarky about it all if it wasn’t my turn to work on Bank Holiday Monday when everyone else was having a day off. The red sky morning turned out not to be a shepherd’s warning either, unless shepherds don’t like nice sunny days. All I got to see of it though was a brief walk at lunchtime, a hoverfly on some hawkweed and a bus all done up with ribbons for a wedding party. Call me old fashioned but I can think of nicer wedding transport.
Still, the day was soon over and I had something nice to look forward to. After work Commando and I were off to Eastleigh for a birthday meal for our lovely daughter in Law, Sirona. Needless to say a good time was had by all, even if they did all gang up and force me to have a desert!
Sunday was mostly taken up with a football match, the first league match we’d been to this season. Lately it seems I’m a bit of a jinx because most of the matches I’ve been to have been less than exciting. If this one turned out to be the same I was going to ask Commando to stop buying me tickets for the sake of the team. As it happened I needn’t have worried, Norwich were no match for a Saints team on top form and we ended with a convincing 2 – 0 win.
The bus office has a skeleton staff on Bank Holidays, mostly to deal with all the idiots who go out to catch their normal Monday morning bus then discover there isn’t one because it’s Bank Holiday. Everyone has to work one of the eight every year and August Bank Holiday was mine. It turned out I wasn’t missing much by working the Bank Holiday Monday. For some reason August Bank Holiday generally seems to be miserably wet and this was no exception. when I got up the rain was teeming down so, sensibly, unlike most of our callers, I checked Traveline to see what time the buses were running and went out to the bus stop in plenty of time. Of course I still had to walk through the desolate park, which looked rather autumnal with the wet pavements, puddles and smattering of fallen leaves, and along the boardwalk.
It was a wet, miserable walk brightened only by fennel flowers and the dripping seed pods of hogweed near Horseshoe Bridge. At the end of it there were phones busy with people who hadn’t bothered to check the Bank Holiday timetables and seemed to think it was everyone else’s fault rather than theirs. At least the day went quickly and, almost before I knew it, I was walking back through the rain to the gate, smiling to myself at another of the rather unfortunate painted yellow men on the walkway. This one seems to be missing a number of vital limbs.