Those of you who check out my Flickr photo pages occasionally may have noticed my cameraphone snaps of people who for some reason feel compelled to put their dirty feet up onto the rearward-facing seats whilst sitting at the back of the upper deck of my beloved Route 79 bus.
However, putting feet up on seats is one thing – but much more irritating is when people deliberately set out to cause a mess – graffiting the seats, the floor, and the windows – as well as leaving behind a complete mess on the seats. I think it’s a minority of citizens who do this kind of thing – and, in my experience at least, it’s mostly teenage schoolkids – but this kind of thing makes the back of the upper deck a bit of a “no-go area” for most people as a result.
(The very back of the upper deck of a Route 79 bus.)
Not trying to be some sort of vigilante hero or anything – but I usually find that if I purposefully make my way to that seating area – shunning the wide open opportunities of sitting anywhere else – then it kind of intimidates the types who normally congregate there – thinking that they “own” the place. And on many occasions I have made it very clear that I am undeterred and unamused by any bad goings-on. I like sitting at the very back of the upper deck; when the windows are open – there is a unique vortex of wind that keeps you cool on a hot summers day travelling to work or going home.
I have, on occasions, told schoolkids off for throwing bottles out of windows, or challenged kids who have applied marker-pens to the walls and windows – and each time I have done so, as regular as clockwork, I have been faced with a barrage of insults and abuse.
But there is one item of verbal response that has reduced said teenage gangs into silence:
“OK: What school do you go to?”
This is usually followed by a stunned silence. And is sometimes followed by a fake response – which invites my obvious “I know you’re lying to me” expression. Which is always followed by me visibly close-examining the school badges being worn on their jackets. And nine times out of ten – there is always a prolonged period of silence and good behaviour on behalf of the perpetrators. This generally only works on the way to work – as this tends to coincide with kids on the way to school. I mean: I could get off at their stop and walk right into their school with them – and complain to their headteacher – who would then summon their parents etc. etc. etc. Which I’m sure would be hugley embarassing for them. But I never go this far – I don’t mean to ruin their “fun” – I just want them to understand for themselves that destroying the bus aint clever.
And I often feel guilty for being a “spoilsport” – as I suspect that there aren’t enough people like me who care about my bus to go so far. And I fear that it it will only get worse when you hear about stories like this.
Every modern bus on the London transport network has at least 6 CCTV cameras on board – and yet even this seems to not deter the vandals. I’m really not sure what will.