My friend TBJ told me a very funny story yesterday and since he’s not much of a runner and it involves running I had to share.
On his way home from a late-ish night he spotted his bus and broke into a light jog to get to the stop in time to catch it. Now TBJ, while not overweight, is a career smoker. He can assemble a roll-up straight as a pencil and smoke it down to the quick. He’s most definitely not a runner and the short burst of exercise probably raised his heart-rate to near-dangerous levels. He arrived a tad late and the bus was pulling away only to stop in traffic some four or five yards beyond the stop.
The gasping TBJ caught the driver’s eye and approached, then knocked on the now closed door (where’s that routemaster platform when you need it?) only to be studiously ignored by the driver. A little frustrated (and from behind the glass and through the wheeze of 30 years of Old Holborn) he muttered a curse, questioning the driver’s parentage which prompted the driver to return a few choice words and drive off into the traffic.
Now TBJ is an assiduous fellow and calculated that in view of the traffic, if he set off at a brisk jog he might get to the next stop in time to catch him again. He did. But unfortunately the road between next stop and the path of the bus had been dug up and so the bus was unable to pull up in the space provided where the pale, panting and now quite excitable TBJ stood.
So while TBJ plotted his victory, confident of an embarkation, the driver had different ideas and sailed past the stop without so much as a “tickets please”. By this stage, as the soap opera unfolded, the passengers had started to get involved and were glancing between driver and sprinter as if to will them to unite.
But neither driver nor passengers were prepared for what happened next. Running on a cocktail of adrenalin and vintage tar, TBJ set off for stop number three as the bus mercifully ground to a halt in another wedge of London’s traffic giving him the time to arrive well in advance of his opponent.
TBJ struck a casual pose leaning against the Bus Stop sign stifling the bubbling mucous that tried in vain to escape his heaving chest. He was determined not to look knackered as Bus 100 pulled up yet again. “Not lettin’ you on” said the driver through the now open door as other passengers climbed aboard. “You cussed me back there and I’m not lettin’ you on!”
Wild horses would not have prevented my boy from getting onto that bus and besides, on he already was. With a sweep of hand towards the half-full bus he replied “If you don’t let me on I will take the names and addresses of these 12 good people and true who will be my witnesses and write to your company and explain that you not only refused me once but three times; I may have heart failure and you will have to fill out triplicate forms, face suspension, ignominy and shame now LET ME ON!”
The theatre of passengers waited for the verdict, necks craned aislewards, while TBJ panted and cleared the sweat from his eyes. The driver took one look at the jury behind him and knew he was beaten so amid cheers from his new fan club TBJ ceremoniously tapped in his Oyster and swaggered like a freed man towards an empty seat where he collapsed in a heap with that glow only a successfully completed run can bring.