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This is a question Public Transport Trauma

Completely Underwhelmed writes, "I was on a bus the other day when a man got on wearing shorts, over what looked like greeny grey leggings. Then the stench hit me. The 'leggings' were a mass of open wounds, crusted with greenish solidified pus that flaked off in bits as he moved."

What's the worst public transport experience you've ever had?

(, Thu 29 May 2008, 15:13)
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Unwanted Attention
Slightly worse for wear, I got on to the night bus on a Monday and slumped against a window. This was in London, and it wasn't unusual to find some strange people traveling at this time of night, but generally they're harmless enough. You'll also normally see a group of kids towards the back of the bus, playing tinny crap R'n'B out of stolen mobile phones. And people like me, been at work, been out for a few drinks, going home to sleep and do exactly the same the next day. And then, on occasion, so have the misfortune to meet someone like the guy stood next to me. Who was absolutely shit-faced.

This, in itself, wouldn't normally pose a problem. I'm a friendly enough guy, intelligent enough to talk myself out of a bad situation, and could probably handle myself if pushed. But I was about to be put in a position that was beyond anything I'd have to deal with before.

Shitfaced Man (quite possibly not his real name, but I didn't think to ask) was late 30's, looked Mediterranean, a big, hairy man who was sweating pure ether from every pore, drunkenly leans in my direction, a bit closer than was necessary. He was a lot bigger than me. "All right?" he slurred. "Had a good night?". The bus turned a corner and he nearly fell over.

"Not as good as your night, by the looks of it" I laughed at him, in good humour.

Suddenly, his expression changed. He looked serious. He was trying to say something, but the words were tangled on the first few attempts. "Are you... you... are you... f-f-f-fucking... are you gay?" he finally managed. In my own drunken haze, it was a difficult to work out how we'd arrived at this tangent, so I just answered honestly: "Erm, no."

He carried on staring at me. He looked angry. "So what." he said. Then, "SO WHAT?" he shouted. He now had the attention of everyone around us. "Do you want to come back to my house and fuck?" he said, and again, presumably for the benefit of all of the other passengers who were suddenly all staring at me. "DO YOU WANT TO COME TO MY HOUSE AND FUCK?"

I probably should explain where the bus was at this point - it was a route that went through central London, past increasingly rough Islington estates and into Hackney, an area not reknowned for it social acceptance of - well, frankly, anything. If you get attacked in Hackney, there's not always a reason for it, so to kick the shit out of what looked to everyone present, to pissed blokes talking about fucking each other, would have been judged as perfectly reasonable. I was getting very worried.

People were staring, with expressions of aggression. No-one else was talking on the bus. All attention was on my response. I said to him, quietly, "Shut up. If you start shouting shit like that hear, you're going to get stabbed. Just shut up."

He looked rejected. I could see this ticking over in his mind. It seemed to have worked - to have made sense in the scramble of thoughts inside his head.

He was silent. For about 30 seconds. And then mumbled something. "I bet you've got a big cock." I pretended I hadn't heard him. This was a mistake. "I BET YOU'VE GOT A BIG COCK. SHOW ME YOUR BIG COCK!" he bellowed. He was now pointing at me as well, which seemed a bit unnecessary. Hoodies towards the back of the bus were edging of their seats. There was a very real atmosphere of impending violence. The bus pulled to a stop. The doors opened. No-one got off. "I'M TAKING YOU HOME AND YOU'RE GOING TO SUCK MY COCK" he shouted, and this time actually made a grab for me. I hurled myself at the doors, and managed to get through them as they shut, nearly trapping my foot. I turned back towards the doors, to see shitfaced man with his face squashed and bloody against the now shut glass door he'd just smashed his face. The bus pulled a way and shitfaced man disappeared into the night.

Now safe, I laughed uncontrollably for about a minute. And then set off for home, this time deciding it was probably safest to walk from here on. At which point, I was promptly mugged at knife point.

Length? I didn't tell him, so I'm not telling you.
(, Sat 31 May 2008, 14:28, Reply)

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