No one on the Megabus really wants to be on the Megabus, I realise as my head is wedged between the toilet door and a gap in the low ceiling while I piss in the sink.
I don’t want to piss in the sink, but I have no other choice. I’m desperate. We’ve been crawling towards Swindon for the best part of an hour, and a man can only spend so long fiddling beneath his trousers before ending up on one of those registers.
The sink isn’t my first choice either — I wanted to use the toilet. I’m a traditionalist like that. But the toilet is close to overflowing and I don’t want to go on the floor, so the sink seems like a good compromise.
Deciding to at least maintain some semblance of respectability I decide to clean the sink, grabbing some toilet paper and hand soap to wipe it down.
Then I realise — with a high degree of certainty — that I’m probably not the only person to have chosen the sink, but I’m most definitely the only person who has decided to clean it afterwards.
This isn’t a slur on the other passengers — the bus just brings out the worst in people. The company bases their entire economic model on this; they sell complete degradation of moral standards. The cost of a journey is so cheap that you’re willing to put up with things you never would on a train, plane or rickshaw.
Take this journey between London and Cardiff for instance. It’s a trip of over 150 miles, and it somehow costs only £9. It’s hard to fathom a business model that allows you to travel across huge swathes of the country for a fee that won’t even get you into your local cinema.
And it’s not just the toilets. They often have broken AC systems, pumping out Arctic air with a distinct smell of Wotsits. Or there is the risk of developing DVT because although standards may exist for the transportation of livestock, they aren’t currently applicable to human cargo. But for £9, or sometimes less, you’re willing to lower your standards.
Once back at my seat, I watch the steady stream of passengers entering the toilet, consider what to do and then ultimately piss in the sink. They all emerge, slightly ashamed and shuffle back to their seats. It kills an hour.
As my interest in the toilet wanes, we arrive in Bristol, a mere two hours late. But you can’t really complain — not for £9. At Bristol, another two busses heading to Cardiff pull up at the station. The drivers start chatting, and they realise there’s a problem.
Our bus is terminating in Cardiff but has passengers who want to travel further west. The other two busses that are travelling further west are full. It’s similar to the brainteaser about a farmer trying to work out how the farmer gets a fox, chicken and sack of corn across a river. I always figured the farmer should just kill the fox.
I listen in anticipation, hoping a driver suggests a similar solution that will provide me with some leg room. After an hour, they all seem to come to an agreement — do nothing and just carry on to Cardiff. And so three hours later than scheduled, we arrive.
As we disembark a passenger mumbles that we could have flown to New York in the same amount of time it took to arrive in Cardiff. Which is true, but you can’t do that for £9.