Like Bilbo Baggins journeying to the Lonely Mountain, you clumsily step over the threshold of the 145 on a Friday afternoon, except with a pair of shoes covering your grotesquely hairy feet.
There are a number of things on this earth €2.60 can buy. An innumerable quantity of Freddo Bars. A nine pack of Tayto crisps. A stranger minding your coat for a few hours. For some it means a journey back home begins along the N11, falling onto Dublin Bus hastily fumbling for change, peering apologetically at fellow passengers, bus driver and coins alike.
Yet, it isn’t this rocky beginning that grinds my gears. No, it’s the turbulent endurance test that one must withstand before arriving at Heuston Station’s pigeon gated sanctuary.
Over the three years I’ve been making this journey, there’s seldom a time I’ve had the privilege of cushioning my already broken spirit with Dublin Bus’s neat seating.
Entangled in my earphones, attempting to steady my sea legs, the bus driver’s first vindictive stamp on the accelerator marks the primary cause of my resentment towards this torturous attempt at returning home.
Unintentionally volunteering as a standing tribute, I brace myself for every awkward bodily collision I know I’m going to endure for the foreseeable future. Every bump and turn of this misery machine marks an obstacle course of body positions.
Your journey becomes a game of avoidance between your hand and the anonymous greasy claw emerging from the sea of compressed torsos. Your stomach turns as someone innocently opens their packed egg sandwich, and you find yourself apologizing for your suitcase’s behaviour as any increase in speed transforms it into a weapon of mass destruction.
I’m unsure whether the drivers are aware of the carnage they create in my personal space, yet it’s hard not to feel a fury within. Your facial expression transforms into one of composed rage as you exchange glances of ‘I didn’t sign up for this’ with another unfortunate soul attempting to find comfort on the suspiciously sticky steps leading above.
Muscles tense, all you can offer those attempting to leave before the final stop is a word of encouragement, the only solace being that you don’t have to take that plunge yet.
I do try to see the positive side of such situations, attempting to translate such a nightmarish experience into one that can be put down to character building. Yet, as I’m relinquished from Dublin Bus’s grasp to be welcomed by its softer locomotive cousin, my disheveled self can’t help but sneer at the driver’s smug expression of comfort as he knows I’ll be back. We always come back.