Having travelled on the National Express many times before, I’m no stranger to coach travel. Unlike most people is seems, I’ve never had any particularly bad experiences with the company. I’ve always felt that if you ignore some of the bizarre passengers that you’ll inevitably travel with, and that awful “people” smell you’ll have to endure, it’s really not too bad.
This time, however, I decided to see what travelling on the Megabus was like. Having heard good things, mostly concerning the price of fares, I was unashamedly excited about the 6-7 hour journey that awaited me.
It started fairly well. The only notably bad thing about the beginning of the journey was the driver’s apparent disdain for all women who aspire to be anything more than something men put their penises in. He also wasn’t very fond of the Polish, Asian people and people from specific boroughs of Birmingham. Oh, but he did appear to be quite fond of smoking cigars and being utterly obnoxious to absolutely everyone.
“What are ya doin’!? This is a road! Don’t you know how to use a road!” he screamed at one woman just outside Wolverhampton, likening her lack of awareness on the road to being Polish. Obviously. Despite having absolutely no way of identifying her ethnicity.
But fortunately, the Polish-hating sociopath soon swapped with another driver, who unsurprisingly, didn’t appear to actively despise the Polish at all!
“I’m goin’ for a Booger King®, I am. Sorry you have to stay on the coach!” said the first driver as he departed the coach.
Now the first driver had gone, things were looking up I thought. Yes, everything was going quite well. The sun was setting, I was reading my book and I had plenty of non-Booger King® food in my bag.
But then I started to notice the bus swaying from side to side. We were frequently and unnecessarily changing lanes, narrowly missing other vehicles. After a few minutes, the swaying had only gotten worse and from here on, the driver’s navigations started to grow increasingly more erratic. We finally started to sway onto the hard shoulder.
I looked down the coach to see what the driver was doing and that’s when I noticed the odd markings on his left arm. His arm was swollen, red, and patchy. He kept clenching his fist and bending his elbow as if it wasn’t correctly functioning. To make matters worse, he appeared to be struggling to stay awake. Concerned, one woman asked if he was okay.
“Yes. I’m, uh–it’s just my arm,” he stuttered. He obviously wasn’t okay. He’d lost the use of one arm and he sounded like he’d been secretly taking hard drugs at the front–which could have also explained the arm.
“I broke down yesterday,” he mumbled, “ran out of petrol.” In hindsight, this was not a reassuring thing for him to say, and in unison, everyone at the front clung to their seats, believing that this was how we were all going to die. If we didn’t run out of petrol first, of course.
While the driver was keen to hide whatever was wrong from most of the coach, he’d oddly enlisted a man at the front as his personal aid, although the man was clearly terrified by the driver’s gammy limb.
“Help me!” whispered the distressed driver, still attempting to cover up the evident signs that his swollen arm was having on his driving from the rest of the coach. Rather than helping, then man instead chose to simply nervously smile back at the driver and then gradually move further back up the coach.
Eventually, after being persuaded to stop by passengers, we took a brief, unscheduled stop at a nearby service station, where the driver drank a quick cup of coffee. This apparently worked miracles on the boil-ridden mess hanging from his shoulder, despite the fact it was still covered in boils and despite the fact that he continued to stray onto the hard shoulder. But nonetheless, he was convinced that he was fit to drive.
So once again, we were off, albeit not for long, for within minutes of departing, a woman sitting nearby started to complain that her head was hurting. Tears began to run down the woman’s face as she tried in vain to forget about the throbbing pain in her head. It was obviously that we’d have to make another stop.
After talking to the poor lady and speaking to the emergency services on the phone, we discovered that she could very possibly be having a brain haemorrhage and immediately asked the driver to stop. Begrudgingly, he did, and we pulled over onto the hard shoulder to wait for an ambulance.
Some passengers, clearly unhappy with yet another unscheduled stop, decided to use this an opportunity to have a cigarette and little walk. So off they went, casually walking down the side of the motorway, occasionally walking over to the central reservation, dodging large vehicles, and taking pictures of themselves in front of the stationary Megabus. It was weird.
Eventually, after first seeing it drive down the opposite side of the carriageway ten minutes prior to its arrival, the ambulance arrived and the woman was rushed to the nearest hospital, which as we later found out, wasn’t actually very near at all.
We finally arrived at our destination at just around midnight and the bizarre crowd of morons who had walked gormlessly across the motorway just a few hours ago split off and walked gormlessly through the streets of the city. The journey had provided many excellent Facebook pictures.
Oddly enough, I put the experience behind me and largely forgot about the events of last week, until today that is, when I decided to try and find out what happened to the poor woman on the coach. While I didn’t find any mention of that particular journey, I did find this article on the Daily Mail website, which describes a journey in which an off-duty driver saved more than 20 people on a runaway bus after the driver in charge passed out at the wheel on a dual carriageway in Monmouth: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1269093/Bus-hero-saves-20-passengers-driver-collapses-wheel-busy-dual-carriageway.html
Worryingly, this is where we stopped just a week ago, which leads me to think that perhaps it’s just possible that the article is referring to the same driver, although there’s no mention of his semi-amputated arm thing, so who knows?
On second thoughts, I’m probably just being dramatic. It’s probably unlikely that this driver has terrified other front seat passengers by falling asleep at the wheel, whispering “Help me!” and revealing his barely functioning arm. But if you do notice anything unusual on a Megabus, specifically if it’s going through the Monmouth area, just get off.
Lastly, I’d just like to send my best wishes to the woman who was rushed to hospital and the opposite of wishes–whatever they may be–to the people who were using a woman’s potential brain haemorrhage as photo opportunity. I’d also like to recommend the driver to get his arm checked out because I’m pretty sure that’s not normal.
So anyway, all in all then, one of my more pleasant coach experiences.