I was up with the sort of gusto I only reserve for pay day. Up n at it nice and early, 9.15am. That's fifteen minutes earlier than normal. I knew getting to work was going to be a challenge/chore. I also knew I still had to get breakfast. Breakfast was a must on a day like today. One needs to be prepared for all eventualities, and a hearty breakfast would see me through to at least 3pm.
Apres breakfast I began the putting on of layers, jumper over work shirt, light jacket over jumper, duffle coat over light jacket, wooly hat over head, finished off with wooly scarf round neck. Paddington Bear in all but name. No marmalade sandwich though, but I did have an extra packet of mints in bag.
I didn't even waste time trying to phone for a taxi. That was a non-starter. With people in Belfast likely to sue at the drop of a hat (you can get £5000 for someone dropping a hat on you) and the weather making the chances of a car accident more likely taxi drivers tend not to bother in such conditions. My choices were now down to two, walk or bus. Neither were particularly attractive. Walking would take hours, and the bus would be full of sweaty people with norovirus. But walking could also end in a busted ankle or at the very least embarrassment. I could live without either.
The bus stop is a 5 minute walk from my house, it took me 15 minutes. Slip sliding like a new born lamb, and with all the grace. Swearing, oh the loud uncensored swearing in public. I was not a happy chappie. Stage one complete and I arrived at the bus stop. Of course there was a bus there as I approached it. A bus I was doomed never to get. I tried to move quicker which ironically made me move slower. And off the 9b went, leaving me sucking on it's exhaust fumes. So I rolled a smoke and waited for the next bus. There would be another along soon.
After a few tut tut tut's and dirty looks from a nasty, pedantic looking man I moved from the bus shelter with my cigarette. Cock. You just bloody know he had the exact change in his mittened paw.
The bus shelter filled over the next half hour. All of us sure the bus would be along soon. I was getting very twitchy. I have never been late to work. Sad eh. I wasn't going to have my record sullied by unfavourable weather conditions. From the distance I could see the outline of a pink double decker Metro bus. My chariot had arrived! Except it hadn't. There, for all to see, read the depressing words, OUT OF SERVICE.
Why do they mock us so?
There was more than an audible sigh from the huddled and cold masses at the bus shelter. Fuck this, fuck this, fuck this I chanted in the style of an Indian Guru with tourettes. Even if the bus arrived now I was still going to be late.
And there it was, my chariot, my saviour. From the gloom appeared a black taxi, the sort that you can hail from the side of the road. Nothing stops these boys from driving, not the weather or the law. Without thinking, there I was half out on the road waving like I had a pregnant woman with me who needed to get to hospital. He stopped. Sweet Jesus was I happy?! I bounced in and never looked back. Well actually I did look back. And I could see the rest of them mouthing, "BASTARD" and shaking their cold, wet heads. Ha! Bastard indeed, but a bastard in a taxi.
I made it to work on time. On time to discover the manager and bar staff outside making a snowman. There he was resplended with limes for eyes and a chilli for a willy. I rushed to work for this?
And then nothing happened for the rest of the day........nothing at all. Which gave me time to think.......