The bus drivers were on strike today, which hugely inconvenienced me because there were all these other people clogging up the footpaths and all these cars running red lights as they tried getting to work along the congested roads.
Actually, the chaos caused by the lack of public transport made me realise how many people actually use the buses. I only take buses when I start early or finish late. Otherwise I walk, because it’s just not pleasant being crammed in a bus with a bunch of other miserable people on their way to work.
There’s something horrible about a full bus. I’ve been on the packed 96 tram doing the 50-minute rush-hour journey all the way from downtown Melbourne to St Kilda, and that was more tolerable than even a lightly-packed bus.
Instead the Auckland bus system gives me the pleasures of such fellow passengers as The Smelly Guy. I encounter The Smelly Guy on my 7am-start weeks. He gets on a few stops after I do and the last thing he does before boarding the bus is to put out the cigarette he’s smoking. This means that he comes on the bus reeking of smoke. But it’s not just that.
He appears to be a painter and probably wears the same painting clothes every day, so as well as the fresh cigarette smoke, his clothes are impregnated with the odours of stale smoke, paint and, yes, body odour. One morning the bus was full and he ended up sitting next to me. I felt ill from his malodorousness.
But this morning I had the sweet smells of autumnal Auckland to keep me company as I made my way to work.