The interview went quite well. Just as well, really, as OFWAT don't want me. I got that letter first thing on Thursday. It was the usual "Regrettably, on this occasion...." blah, "the standard of candidates was extremely high...." blah blah.
Just as well, really. The place was only ten minutes from where I used to work at the Big E.
The place I went to on Thursday is hard to reach. I left the house before 12pm and got to the bus station. I asked at the information desk how to get to the cemetery (which is opposite the place) and I was told it was a bit late to catch the bus to West Bromwich, I needed the tram. The interview was for 2pm. How was it going to take 2 hours to get there?
It only took an hour and three quarters. Tram to West Bromwich and then a special A bus out. There is the 404 and the 404A and it was imperative I got the 404A. The place was small and friendly enough and I seemed to get on well with the interviewers who had to interview me in a freezing file room as the auditors had taken on the spare room for a spot audit. They let me keep my coat on.
I got back to West Bromwich and ran to the tram which had pulled into the station. I got on the tram which had Wolverhampton St Georges as its terminus scrolling across the dot matrix board. I buried my head in the papers looking for jobs and only stuck my head up to show the conductor my ticket and then, to see why the journey was taking so long.
I was heading towards Birmingham. The conductor had looked at my return ticket to West Bromwich from Wolverhampton and failed to warn me I was on the wrong tram. The prissy tram voice announcing the stops had been turned off and I was now where I shouldn't be without a valid ticket.
At Birmingham the tram broke down, blocking the platform. I left and trolled around the Bullring for a while. Bought some stuff at Boots and caught the bus. The 79 bus takes hours. Handsworth, West Bromwich, Hilltop, Wednesbury, Darlaston, Bilston and finally Wolverhampton.
The bus filled up and I saw a spare seat. The lady sitting next to it showed my why no one was sitting there. A blood spatter pattern along the wall finished with a puddle of fresh blood down on the floor. Brilliant. No one was going to tell the driver as that meant taking the bus out of service and delaying their journeys home.
I went upstairs and got stuck behind some Asian bimbo arguing with her boyfriend on the phone. "Where are you then?", "No you're not!", I'm outside Shah's now - you're not there!", I'm not getting off the bus!", "You're seriously pissing me off , man!", "No. No. No. No. NO WAY!". And so on until the outskirts of West Bromwich.
When the bus cleared at West Brom, I went back downstairs. The bus route trails its way through industrial units and there were a lot of workers clocking off and going home. Predominantly Asian and mainly women, they filled the bus and chatted loudly while the kids and the wasters went upstairs to smoke. That's not allowed, by the way.
At Bilston, a black guy got on and he was seriously drunk. He was wet down one side of his body where he'd collapsed and pissed himself and there was a wet slick down one side of his face where he'd drooled over himself. Where did he sit? The blood puddle. No one bothered to tell him.
I remember a conversation with the Bearded Sweetie before he left. I was miserable (quelle surprise), hated my job and had just been rejected for yet another position. I think it was Network Rail. I was crying again. It was only the morning and there was most of a working day to get through.
He told me to think about what was good about the job. I said the money and the benefits. Such as? he asked. The Travelcard loan. I was grateful that I could afford a Travelcard that could get me on the trains. The buses were awful. He joked then that he occasionally took his children on the bus to show them what would happen if they didn't do well in their exams. Cue weak laughter and the business of the day.
Fast forward two years and here I am. Trundling around on a bus with the pensioners, teenage mothers with council house face lifts and pushchairs the size of small cars, their howling, pasty faced bastards, the poor, the wasters and the pissheads.
I'm poor. I'm so poor I'm travelling on the bus from Birmingham to Wolverhampton. Nightmare.
I really need to start earning good money again.