134 Bus
Central Customer Services
Transport For London
23rd Floor
Empress State Building
Empress Approach
London SW6 1TR

26th October, 2007

Dear Sir/Madam,

I was appalled today by my treatment at the hands, or rather at the mouth, of one of your members of staff.

I boarded a 134 bus this evening in Muswell Hill, bound, I assumed, for Tottenham Court Road. The 134 is famous locally for going to exactly that destination; indeed it was to that place that I was hoping to be taken, en route to my place of study at the Institute of Education library on Bedford Way – not on a bus route, but I enjoy the walk.

I had plenty of work to do on my way to the library, so I took advantage of the bus journey by making some telephone calls and making notes in my diary. This was all going swimmingly, until the bus appeared to terminate its journey at Warren Street; my suspicion was aroused by the turning off and on again of the bus’s lights. I hurriedly began replacing my possessions in my bag, and despite catching the faintest of murmurs from the lower deck of the bus (I was seated on the top deck), I could not pick out the words that were softly spoken; I was nonetheless heartened to hear the voice of another human being.

I finished packing my bag and walked down the aisle to the stairs. I was only half way to them when the bus began to move again. “My mistake then”, I thought; I sat down again, and the bus continued to wend its way toward my stop. All of a sudden, however, we veered sharply to the right, and headed back north again on the ring road! Imagine! I ran swiftly along the length of the bus and down the stairs, and asked the driver where we were heading.

The driver preferred not to answer my question, but instead said, “you should have got off the bloody bus when I told you to”. Somewhat taken aback by the man’s uncouth words and hostile manner, I said that I had tried as much, but had seated myself again when the bus began to move off, since it was not made remotely clear that our journey was at its premature conclusion. I asked him then, as we were stopped at traffic lights, to allow me off the bus. He said he would take me to a bus stop. (I should point out at this point that I was not the only person still on the bus; but I was, fortunately, the only one to whom the offensive gentleman chose to reveal his coarse vocabulary.

I asked our driver, despite my hastening feelings of fear and unease, why he had turned away from the traditional route of the 134. He said he had been told to – whether by God, his superiors or voices in his head, I suppose I will never know. This unbelievably rude man then told me, “you don’t live here”. In the sense that my mailing address is not the luggage rack of a London omnibus, he was of course correct. I think, however, that perhaps he meant I was not a resident of London, and that this somehow explained my lack of understanding of our altered route. This exclusivist and untrue remark (I live in Muswell Hill – see above) seems utterly bizarre. London thrives on its tourist trade, so lack of residency hardly qualifies one for sour treatment at hands of the staff of the transport infrastructure, does it? If so, I imagine this to be a potentially dodgy policy. From his accent, the driver himself appeared to be of Irish extraction – I cannot imagine how he, as a recent outsider to the capital himself, has become so insensitive to the needs of those whom he perceives, albeit wrongly, not to be from what I can only assume from his manner to be his adopted home town.

The driver of the bus also informed me this evening that I do not have a brain, and that if I do then it clearly does not work. He seemed unperturbed when I then told him that I was in fact en route to study in a library; I still intend to follow that plan, once I have completed this correspondence.

I told the bus driver that I would be complaining about his conduct, and asked him for his name. “McCormick”, he replied. I waited momentarily, then asked for his Christian name, and he held up for me a card bearing the number “135122”. I asked if this really was his Christian name, and he confirmed that indeed it was.

I cannot find words to express sufficiently my displeasure at this man’s behaviour, his foul language, his incomprehensive insensitivity to his fellow humans, and his highly questionable attitude to people whom he thinks live outside of our city.

I trust that an apology in regard to this matter will be forthcoming, and that 135122 McCormick is duly reprimanded and sent on at least one training course to improve his devastatingly bad customer relations skills. I expect also some sort of compensation for the loss of my valuable study time, now wasted on such an incompetent and unfriendly man as 135122 McCormick.

I see now why Mr. Livingstone is so keen to have us Londoners (for yes, I am indeed one such) cycle to work..

Yours faithfully,

Gareth Dylan Smith.

NB No-one has yet responded to this letter. 

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