As of Saturday night I have been devoid of a laptop.
It has gone to live with my uncle for a little bit because it is sick and needs to get better.. Until then.. Posts will be done with my phone.. Or at work.. But then I can’t help but think that using work computers for my posts would be a little bit cheeky.. Or not.. :D
So true to yesterday’s post I’ll tell you about my journey into London.. The most horrific yet one of the loveliest journeys taken on National Express.
Now I’ve never had any qualms with National Express coaches prior to this journey. There have been single occasions where coaches have left late or arrived to the destination later than indicated, but for the most part, they are usually a good service and often get me to my destination ahead of schedule. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
If I wasn’t on the coach and someone told me the story I am about to tell you, I wouldn’t believe them. It sounds so far-fetched and ridiculous that I couldn’t even dream of making this up.
First and foremost I need to say that the reason why I take coach is because it is a cheaper alternative to taking the train. If I book well enough in advance.. And I mean about 8 weeks or so, then I can purchase train tickets with ease.. Any time after that.. WITH my young persons railcard I am looking at in excess of £45.. It’s just a bit much compared with a £10-15 return fare on the coach.
So anyway, I walked to the station from work and waited. Our coach pulled up, let it’s passengers off and then we were informed that there would be a 30 minute delay because the driver had to go and get fuel and come back before we could start our journey. We all sat back down. At this point, 30 minutes was fine. We could easily get that back when we got on the motorway. So the driver came back and we left, reaching our next stop 15 minutes later than schedule. Everyone was boarded onto the coach and the girl from the station that checked off the passengers got on the coach, did a head count, had a few words with the driver and we were off. Little did we know the real problems started before we had left that stop.
We got to the next station on our journey to pick up two passengers. They were checked in on the manifesto and their bags placed in the hold, then they boarded the bus to sit down. One of the girls boarded first and immediately started telling her friend that there were no seats together for them to sit down.. Moments later it became apparent that there was only one seat left for the two passengers.
When we left the previous stop along our route, the girl that boarded to do a head count messed up. She somehow thought that there were three empty seats on the coach when in actual fact there was only one. We had problems. Two passengers, one seat. They were fuming.
One of the two passengers proceeded to call the National Express helpline and the driver turned off the engine and proceeded to call National Express service support. After about 15 minutes of sitting in the station the driver came on the coach and informed us we had a problem. He couldn’t move with a standing passenger, so unless a solution was found, we weren’t going anywhere. The reaction of the passengers was almost – dare I say – mob like.
They demanded that the driver check everyone’s tickets again and were at a loss as to how we apparently left the previous stop with three seats and have arrived at this one with one.
After 45 minutes of waiting, National Express agreed to pay for one person to proceed to London via taxi, so someone volunteered to give up their seat so the two passengers could get on and we could leave.
An hour after we arrived, we were leaving completely full with no empty seats – everyone cheered as we moved. Only one stop between here and London I thought to myself.
We were on our way again. After being on the coach for probably about 45 or so minutes we pulled into a service area so that we could change drivers as the driver we had needed to take another bus. So we pulled in and our driver called the other driver to see where he was. He didn’t answer. He turned off the engine and again called National Express service support to check for him. We soon found out that the driver was a no show. We were on a coach in a service area with no one to drive us further onto our destination. Service support suggested that the current driver take us all the way down to London.. To which he responded that wouldn’t be possible because he has another coach waiting for him.
In essence we were stranded. The driver stood up and told us more bad news. We all groaned at the fact that we were encountering another problem after only just having rectified the first one. Most of the passengers got off the coach and we started speaking to each other, asking names and where they were from before sharing laughs at our misfortune.. Some other passengers were not so happy and were not afraid to make that known.
30 minutes had gone by and with no sign of a solution, people started getting to know each other more.. It’s amazing how some situations bring out amazing qualities in a bunch of strangers ultimately uniting them to become more because of this shared experience..
My story will continue tomorrow as I didn’t realise how long it was going to be! If you’ve made it this far.. Congratulations! I promise you.. The shambles of this journey only gets better!
To be continued..