Thursday, February 9, 2012
The Wheels on the Bus
The only thing that has been building up in my head as a source of stress since arriving has been the prospect of my first bus journey. Of all the activities that face me whilst out and about, quite why this one had buried its way into my head is a mystery.
It may be because bus journeys signify the beginning and end of the day outside prison, and also hold dire consequences if, for example, one is late returning. It is the first point at which the whole day can be stuffed up. Or so I thought.
Presenting myself in Reception on a bitterly cold morning I waited to sign my License - the bit of paper that authorises me to be out for a set number of hours. To then be told, "you're not going out, the Governor has forgotten to sign your license..." was a hammer blow. Of all the ways the day could go wrong, this one had never been contemplated. A bit of running about later, license signed, checked out at the Gatehouse, and I was finally freed to join the rest of the world's fools who find themselves shivering at bus stops in the early morning.
I was under the impression that I needed to have the precise and correct coins to buy my ticket. My worries had been centred on this tiny detail. What if my coins were wrong? Do I just step off the bus and return to the nick, the day a wasteland of unfulfilled hope?
And, obviously, my change was wrong!. So I poked a fiver at the driver and asked him to just burn me ticket to Location X, even if he had no change. But lo! He dumped a pile of coins and a ticket back into my hand. What had I been stressing over?
Turning to face the seats I found myself hit by a wall of eyes, a bus absolutely chocca with school kids. Doesn't every prisoner wonder if he is identifiable as such on the street? I didn't, not for one moment.
The only seat available was a jump seat near the front and I leapt on it, pushing the elderly and pregnant out of the way. Only kidding. Once seated, though, I found it difficult to find anything on which to rest my gaze. At every turn, it seemed, was a person staring at the screen of their phone and privacy was clearly not top of their list of priorities. The etiquette of this was unknown to me, but I'd think it bloody rude if someone else was peeking at my phone, and so I spent the entire journey blankly staring at the ceiling.
Hop off, a forty minute wait on a wind blasted railway platform, and then off to Derby. Even the ticketing woman on the train was familiar with Bubbles Massage Parlour. It must be good!
Labels: open prison