One morning, a few weeks ago, I was late for work. I arrived at my bus stop to have one of those moments when every bus in the world passes you. “It could be twenty minutes before there’s another bus,” I thought. I decided to attempt a sprint to the next bus stop to catch one of the buses that had just whizzed by. Like the wind, I dashed. I sprinted past many staring commuters. I bounded down the road with giant leaps. I was gaining on the bus. I recall my foot catching on something, before I hurtled forward and landed on all fours. I picked myself up. Some concerned individuals began motioning towards me. “I’m fine, thanks,” I said as self-composed as I could muster. I ran towards the bus again. I reached the bus stop in time. In my seat I examined my wounds; grazed hands and badly cut knee. The fall had torn a hole in my favourite pair of trousers. I became emotional. I fought back the tears, not wanting to be one of those crazy people who cry on the bus – especially, if it were tears shed over a pair of torn trousers. I spent the day feeling sorry for myself and buying sweets. Boyfriend was great. He texted me over the course of the day to make sure I was OK. At home Boyfriend and I discussed the event.
“You’re always falling and tripping over something,” he said accusingly. “You really need to be more careful.”
“I am not always falling,” I replied in astonishment at the accusation. “You make me out to be some lecherous alcoholic who tumbles in the streets. When did I last fall?” I said smugly.
“You once slipped and fell on the way home from the gym. In the last year, while jogging, you’ve had at least two trips from which you’ve been injured badly. You fell during the wedding in Italy. You limped for two days. You’ve also missed the kerb a few times when just walking. Is that enough examples?”
“Yes, it is” I responded coldly, consumed with my returning memories of clumsiness.
Since this conversation, I have been more aware of my daily stumbles. I’ve realised, on average, I trip at least twice a week. The majority of times it happens on the stairs of a bus. The stairways of Dublin buses are quite dangerous. They are steep. Add to this the fact that the stairs are moving and you have a potential death trap. The new buses accelerate at an incredible rate that often sends passengers hurtling forward. Twice last week I tumbled down the stairs to a wide eyed audience of seated passengers. On Monday, while climbing the stairs, the bus revved suddenly. I toppled forward and buried my head between a woman’s calves. She wasn’t at all pleased. This morning, while lowering myself into the seat ass first, the bus accelerated dramatically. I wobbled. The woman next to me cowered as my weight briefly hovered over her in a seated position. It was the closest thing to a lap dance on public transport she will likely experience. I saved myself by grabbing the bar. She didn’t seem bothered by the fact I didn’t deliver a lap dance. A pole dance was sufficient. I apologised and sat safely in my seat.
Ten minutes later it was time to run the gauntlet again; time to get off the bus.