It took me three hours to get home on Friday. I think that makes the top of my 'worst journeys of all time' list, although it's possibly only second to that disastrous coach-trip to Leeds in Febraury 2003...
On Thursday an email went around offering managers discretion to let people go home early if they wanted, due to the bad weather. I couldn't go home early on Thursday because I needed to build some hours (I'm having flex this Wednesday and still don't have enough hours for it - bah) but I still managed to leave at 5.30 and get home at a reasonable time - there was no traffic hardly, and the bus was surprisingly empty.
On Friday, the same email went around, but we were offered no such option. I could have left at 3.30 nonetheless, and would have done if I'd realised just how long it would take me to get home. (Although, in retrospect, it probably wouldn't have made that much difference...)
When I got to the bus stop there was already two-bus-shelter-length long queue for the 50. This is actually fairly normal, but not usually at 4.15. I was expecting a delay on the buses (OMG it's snowing panicpanicpanic!!!11one) so I didn't mind too much, and I was quite enjoying waiting for the bus in the snow, as at that point it was still light and not too cold. Luckily I was wearing a hat and my leather coat so I didn't get too soaked in the process of turning into a snowman.
After about 40 minutes, a 50 turned up. Of course, I didn't get on that one because the first 100-odd people rushed it, but at least then I could stand under the bus shelter. For the majority of the next 20 minutes or so of waiting, I had to listen to a girl whining to (presumably) her boyfriend or parent on her mobile about how she'd been waiting hours and couldn't they come and get her? Well, honey, if the buses are having trouble getting through, and there's been NO TRAFFIC for the last 30 minutes, I figure they won't want to come out into Birmingham to drive your whiny ass home.
Then, to make things even more unpleasant, a bunch of teenage chavs decided that because they'd just come to the bus stop, and because they were cold, that they had every right to stand at the front of the queue ahead of everyone else.
Luckily, at that point, about 40 people spotted something (presumably a bus?) around the corner by Selfridges and trudged off, en masse to try and get on board. Which was good, because the teenagers went with them, and the rest of us were able to move forwards.
There seemed to be a 50 (possibly) stuck around said corner and struggling to get up the hill, and the 'realtime' (my arse) display kept saying 'Due' because it was stuck.
Eventually, another bus came along, and all sense of decorum and manners disappeared as people crushed to get onto it from every direction, including some bastards who'd only just turned up at the bus stop and tried to get in from the other side of the bus shelter. Somehow I managed to get a seat, and sat down for what was hopefully going to be a not-too-bad journey home.
Heh. Wishful thinking, I feel. First we thought the bus wouldn't even move off because he'd pulled so far into the kerb, as the engine was making horrible grinding noise trying to get through the snow.
We turned the corner by Matthew Boulton College and hit a lot of traffic going under the bridge, and from my view out of the front window I could see the bus sliding ominously from side to side because of the slush and ice. At this point I was getting quite scared.
We finally got through that bit of traffic and around the corner to Digbeth Cold Storage, where there was another vast mass of people trying to get on the bus. The driver stopped the bus and turned off the engine, stood in the door and demanded that only 12 people get on.
Naturally, about 30 people trampled their way onto the bus and stood along the middle aisle.
The bus driver then proceeded to sit there for about half an hour demanding that people get off the bus because it was too dangerous, an opinion which was shared by the majority of passengers. A couple of women took it upon themselves to lecture the stupid standing-up people. Probably the best conversation was this:
Mouthy teenager: I've been waiting for hours!
Woman at back: So have we, but having a go at the driver won't help, will it!
One woman got off the bus with parting words of "I don't want to die...", a sentiment which was shared by everyone. Someone else's logical argument was, "Do you want to get out and push the bus up Bradford Street? No? I didn't think so. So GET OFF THE BUS!"
The "GET OFF THE BUS!!!" sentiment was shared by quite a few people after half an hour had elapsed, along with "Will you just SHUT the bloody DOORS!" to the driver, as he refused to do so and subsequently more people were getting on. Possibly he might have called the police at one point to get rid of people, but by that point I think my brain had frozen, as night had fallen and my gloves were wet and I was freezing.
I had a brief text tennis with miss_scooter, who suggested walking - at one point I was seriously considering it, but then the bus set off again.
The traffic was quite bad all throughout Digbeth, but once we took the sideroad to cross the dual carriageway (which was completely gridlocked) it didn't take long to get to Moseley, where the traffic seemed to come to a standstill again.
I eventually got home at 7.15 and immediately changed into warm socks and put the fire on.
Paul got back 15 minutes or so after me. His Tale of Woe is much worse than mine - he normally gets the train from Tyseley to Hall Green and then the 11 from there, but he'd been given a lift to Acocks Green to get the 11 from there instead because of the weather. Apparently he'd sat on the bus for 50 minutes without moving anywhere, and then the driver got off the bus, disappeared for a while, then decided he was taking the bus back to the garage and everyone had to find their own way home.
There was a 2-hour wait for taxis, so Paul had to walk home from Acocks Green, in the snow, which took the best part of two hours. After that we both chatted to Lisa downstairs for a while about our respective horrible journeys, and cooked some tea. We ideally wanted a takeaway to be delivered, but figured it would take four hours to turn up and no delivery boy in his right mind would want to go out anyway...
Seriously, though, why is Birmingham - Britain, in fact - so rubbish when it comes to bad weather? I'm not just talking snow - even when it rains the traffic goes wrong. In this case it's like they were only prepared for one day of snow and then the second day completely blew their minds... I'm sorry, but four inches of snow is not a viable excuse for the state of affairs on Friday night, when there are countries in the world where the weather is much worse, a lot more of the time.
Get with it, Britain. If the scientists are right and there are only gonig to be two seasons (a short, harsh winter and a long, hot summer) then there is more of this weather to come, so frelling well prepare for it. Get some bloody snow ploughs. You have NO EXCUSE in the 21st century for the appalling state of the public transport system when there's even a little bit of snow, let alone eight solid hours of it.
Anyway, ranting aside, I did enjoy the snow for the period I wasn't stuck in it. Snow makes me very happy.
On Thursday night I forced Paul to have a snowball fight with me, which he enjoyed very much against his better judgement, and we built a snowman. The snowman's feet are still struggling to melt in our back garden as of this morning... I'll post a picture of him when we have the internet.
(Oh, that's another thing, we were meant to have the internet on Friday night, but Ben was also stuck in traffic so we called it off. Which is really bloody annoying, because I have three days off work and wanted to catch up on some of my online stuff. Bollocks. Anyway, I've probably lost quite a few of my online acquaintances through lack of internet, so a few more days won't hurt...)
On Saturday we had breakfast at the local organic cafe (very nice) and then did a little bit of food shopping. On Sunday, marz109 came over for a bit because she was bored and now has her driving licence. Paul argued with me over going to the pub because I didn't want to go out, and we watched the first episode of Life on Mars (and now need to record series 2 to stockpile it for later) before tea. Then he buggered off out, came back about 10.30 and we watched episode 2. I think the scene where the BBC test-card girl and her clown come out of the screen to haunt Sam's dreams is one of the scariest things I've seen on television for a while...
At least I only have two days at work this week.
I WANT THE INTERNET BACK, DAMMIT!