23 August 2017
A London Stoic: Missing the bus
“Check out the arse on that!” he shouted.
“Oi, oi!” shouted the other in quick succession.
Being the red-blooded male that I am - and not wanting to succumb to FOMO - I turned around as I was approaching the end of Old Compton Street in the hope of catching a glimpse of her. Hopefully a mediterranean beauty, long dark hair flowing down her back, tight jeans.
I clocked the guys to see which direction they were looking so I, too, could claim my dopamine shot. Wait, that’s confusing; why are they looking at me?
“Hey don't walk away, come back, sweetie.”
Oh god, they're talking to me. The absolute last thing I want at 10pm on a packed Soho street is to be the centre of a 'scene'. Too late. There's plenty of people that just saw what happened and they're chuckling, which is fair enough because it was funny. I'd have smiled more if I wasn't blushing so hard.
So I turn back around, crimson-faced, only to see the 24 bus - the one I desperately need to catch - drive past on the way to the bus stop that I should already have been at. So I start to jog after it.
“It runs like Wonder Woman!” I hear the arse-fanatic shout. More laughter.
Now, though, I have to run faster if I'm going to catch this bus. Run faster and not look like Wonder Woman, which is harder than it sounds.
"Oh crap I'm not going to make it," I think, running full-pelt down Charing Cross Road dodging tourists. I see the doors close. But then I'm thrown a lifeline. I make eye contact with the driver in the door mirror. Result, I made it.
Wait, why is he smiling? I found out a millisecond later: the fucker pulls off.
What I wanted to do
I wanted to keep running and catch him at the traffic lights. I would've kicked the front doors in, smashing the glass.
Then, reaching into my backpack for my claw hammer, I'd have made light work of breaking into the driver's compartment. By this point he's screaming as I drag him by the hair out the broken front doors and punch him in the face, knocking him out.
Now with a large ear-to-ear grin I'd lay him down under one of the front wheels, get behind the wheel and practice driving forwards and backwards by three feet, all the while basking in applause from the other passengers on the bus, most of whom have probably missed the bus like this, too, at some point.
What I did
Stopped bloody running for one. Then a couple of seconds after having the above fantasy I just started laughing, which if you think about it is the only decent reaction to the silly events that just took place.
The bonus of laughing is that it instantly changes your state. It would've been so easy to work myself into a rage and actually want to follow through with my wretched plan.
I also reminded myself that the 24 bus is one of the most frequent busses in the whole of London and that another would be along in less than five minutes. So I get home a tiny bit later. So what?
One of the things stoicism teaches us is that we choose how we react to situations. Is it really worth letting someone else decide how the rest of my day is going to go? Absolutely not. And neither should you.