It began at around half six in the afternoon on a Wednesday, the demise of our punctuality. Myself and my friend Emma had places to be and people to down apple sours with in Wetherspoons.
However, due to a series of unhelpful individuals, and our lacking knowledge of public transport, an abrupt halt was put to this. Our day prior to this had been challenging to say the least. Tears had been shed and many a doughnut had been eaten – I am pinpointing this as the reasoning behind every pathetic mistake we made subsequent to these happenings. A scapegoat, you might say.
Our journey began with us searching for a way to get to Emma’s accommodation in Ballymun. We chose a bus stop on Westmoreland Street, one Emma claimed to have used before, but looking back on the situation I have my doubts.
As someone who gets the train to and from college, I am not well acquainted with the Dublin bus system, aside from the 4am 42N whom I know too well. As such, my general bus knowledge is shameful to say the least.
I made my first blunder by attempting to flag down the wrong bus, which I soon discovered did not stop there. The stop was an incredibly busy one, and I can only imagine how intelligent I must have appeared when my hand shot out again, worse this time, for a bus on the other side of the road. What in God’s name was I expecting to happen was the million dollar question I’m sure the dozen of onlookers asked themselves, to which I still don’t know the answer.
I did my best to play it off and tell myself no one was looking, but when you’re a dating app’s standard of six feet tall with bright pink hair (don’t mention my hair colour in nearly every single article I write – challenge failed), reenacting an inflatable tube man at a car dealership, you will most likely be spotted.
Moments later, Emma’s hand was out for our bus, the 13, which drove straight past because we were at the wrong stop. Said hand was quickly curled into a fist, which was angrily waved in the air as if this was going to make the bus come back. We made an executive decision to get on a bus which had the same destination written on it as the 13, because surely it would have similar stops, or so we thought.
As we were boarding the bus Emma had a quick word with the driver just to double check it would be stopping in Ballymun, he responded with a definite “yes” and a quick smile. At the time I was naive, unsuspecting, I mistook it for one of warmth. But now I know better. We took what he said as gospel, because, sure, what would a bus driver get out of fooling two grown adults? A hell of a lot apparently.
We filled the bus journey with rambling chatter, completely oblivious of what was to come. At one stage, Emma observed that the light above my head was broken, and had somehow turned a shade similar to that of my hair. A funny coincidence, I had thought – my past English teachers would have called it foreshadowing.
Emma began to grow concerned as we had been on the bus for almost 45 minutes, and still had not reached Ballymun. I did what any individual who has lived in Dublin their entire life does, and whipped out Google Maps to try to figure out where we were.
I reassured Emma that we were heading in the right direction, and would be there soon. She wasn’t convinced, and she had every right not to be because as soon as I said it the bus swerved and changed route.
A small detour, a quick round the bend, and then we’d be back on track. Lies. I fed Emma lies for about ten minutes while we drove further and further from Ballymun. We could see on the map the dot of the bus nearing the motorway, and we knew we had no choice. Emma pressed the stop button, and we hopped off the bus. I never turned to catch a glimpse of the driver, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had been giggling away to himself.
We had gotten off at a narrow footpath on a long stretch of road. It was now half past seven, and the autumn darkness had set in. The roads were empty bar the occasional car speeding by, and we hadn’t the faintest idea where we were. At this point, we were tired, hungry and very much panicking.
Emma had launched into an enraged spiel, cursing the driver and the world in general. It was quite the scene, and I dare say it would have given Michael Gambon’s performance of King Lear in the storm a run for its money.
To top off the theatrics we were putting on for the dangerous drivers, I began experiencing sharp pains in my chest, and was bent at close to a ninety degree angle. Emma’s panicked state had reached its peak at this point, as she had now convinced herself I was having a heart attack and would collapse before her eyes.
Spoiler alert: I survived. The chest pains subsided, and Emma, now assured I was not about to drop dead, had the idea to call a taxi on Free Now. The two of us spent several minutes hunched over the phone, willing someone to come to our aid.
The glorious “arrive in 2 minutes” message appeared, and we thought we were saved. But those two minutes turned into five, and our driver was no closer to us. The driver cancels, and I’m groaning in distress, Emma is kicking off her one woman play, and the passersby are once again entertained. I decided to try the app on my own phone, but the same happened once more. Two minutes turned into five, and then nothing.
We began walking along the road in the hopes a driver might pick us up from elsewhere. After about five to ten minutes of walking we spotted someone standing at a bus stop on the opposite side of the road.
I decided to do what any sensible individual would do, and ran across the dark road to approach the large man dressed in all black, with a peak cap covering his face. Emma and I loitered at the man’s side, before I worked up some courage and edged over to him. I began rambling about our situation, borderline trauma dumping on the poor guy.
I was at this for a minute or two, until the man reached up to his ears and removed his earphones. I tried to mask my annoyance, and asked him if he knew how to get to Ballymun. He didn’t pick up on what I was saying, and we were met with a shrug.
Emma decided to step in by repeating what I said at about double the volume, which eventually evolved into her ranting once again. As we were getting absolutely nowhere, and the poor man looked visibly frightened, I got Emma to try for a taxi once again. No luck, and Free Now had worked its way up to second (the bus driver is still first) on Emma’s hit list.
Getting a bit desperate, I stupidly stuck my hand out for the third time that day, trying to thumb a lift. Emma quickly snatched my hand, and proposed we be careful and only try to flag down female drivers. However, when the cars are travelling at 60 miles per hour, trying to spot (and assume) the gender of a driver is easier said than done.
We returned to our mindless walking in the direction Google Maps claim is towards Ballymun. I began recording panicked voice memos to send to our awaiting friends explaining the situation and the delay. After sending these to the wrong contacts, I decided to video call the friends, who through the use of Find My Phone informed me that we were in Finglas.
I most definitely have driven through Finglas before, but this was my first time setting foot on its soil, and the area’s taxi drivers were not doing it any favours. We walked for about 15 minutes or so until we found ourselves at a roundabout junction, another failed taxi attempt, and we continued along a bridge over the motorway. Deciding to make the most of our ridiculous situation we took some photos in the hopes we might make an article out of this trip if we ever managed to get home.
I don’t even remember how long it took us before we reached our next landmark – we were so overcome with joy that everything beforehand seemed to evaporate. At the next roundabout we saw something absolutely extraordinary: a signpost for Ballymun.
We once again attempted calling a taxi, though God knows why we thought one might pull up in the middle of a roundabout. We continued on by following the signposts, and I began Googling for buses that might take us closer to our destination. I came across the N6 and we decided to try heading towards one of its stops. We failed to locate any, however, because neither of us can apparently read a map.
We continued on our depressing journey until we reached a retail park, with more and more cars appearing on the surrounding roads. Not feeling optimistic, but running out of options, Emma tried for our fifth taxi. Again the two minutes pop up, and I’m waiting to be cancelled on, when all of a sudden the car starts moving towards us.
Myself and Emma let out a small cry, and started jogging towards the bus stop we believe we’re being picked up from. The notification that the driver had arrived appeared, but there was no taxi to be seen. We had another look at the driver’s location, and to absolutely no surprise we’re at the wrong bus stop.
The stress of the last hour and half and the fear of it continuing kicked in, and we started sprinting. We legged it across roads, which suffice to say I don’t recommend, until we finally spotted a taxi. We’re yelling and waving, terrified he’ll drive off.
Emma, almost hurtling into the side of the car, apologised and confirmed that we have the right guy. We piled into the back of the taxi, and the poor man had to get out and come around to the back because I was unable to shut the door properly. Our lifesaver’s name is Owen, and he was an absolute angel.
Emma launched into a rant about our struggles with getting a taxi, which quickly turned into a summary of our day and the other obstacles we had faced over the summer. Owen, who was as equally invested in our life stories, started offering us advice, like some sort of on-the-move therapist. We quickly reached our destination, and were severely overcharged for the journey, but considering that it doubled as a counselling session, we felt it was fairly reasonable.
We hopped out at Emma’s accommodation, and once again I failed to manoeuvre the passenger door. I did not make it past the entrance of the building as it was after visiting hours. I resorted to hunching on the ground and chatting to residents I knew as they came in and out.
Emma thankfully took only fifteen minutes getting ready, and was back by my side in no time. We were faced again with another challenge, one that had me considering breaking into her accommodation.
Getting back into town. My hand was prepared, ready to once again flag down the wrong bus. The journey back was an improvement, although far from easy. But that’s a story for another time.