Short Stories

Dublin, Ireland – The Crabby Bus Driver

There are many travel blogs that focus on the sights/sounds and experience of a place. It’s usually from the perspective of what they did and saw. In this blog I’m going to try writing about my travels from the perspective of people. The people I met while traveling, the people I traveled with etc. I’m not sure if this a good way to document my past travels. But we’ll see, eh?

Regardless, hopefully this will be refreshing and take you to another time and place (pre-covid).

Location: Dublin, Ireland

The Crabby Bus Driver

Waiting by the bus station in the bitter cold. At least it seemed bitter to me, I who had not planned on it being quite as cold as it currently was in early Spring. All I had was a sweatshirt and thin weatherproof jacket. Not waterproof as you see, so if it rained hard enough (which it did) it soaked through and really did very little for me.

There we were, myself and my four traveling companions at the bus stop as gray cloud scudded across the sky above us. Waiting for a bus, the right bus, to arrive so we could make our way to Drimnagh Castle. At last it hissed to a stop in front of us. Was it the right bus?

Announcements blaired out in Gaelic and then again in English.

“Excuse me” I hopped on the bus, but the the driver tried to avoid my eye contact. I waved my hand to catch his attention. He turned his gaze to me as if I was the last person he wanted to talk to right then. I probably was.

“Does this bus go to Drimnagh castle?”

“This is route 43”

“I know but does it go by Drimnagh castle, it looked like it did on the map but we couldn’t tell and…”

“Yes it goes by there. This is route 43. Are you getting on?”

We hustle on board and find seats scattered across the 4 corners of the bus.

The bus door closes and one last person tries to slip off last minute. The bus driver leans out of his glass box at the front of the bus and starts swearing a blue storm at him. The person starts screaming back and the only thing that saves us all is the automatic closing doors. They shut with a hiss and with a grunt and another aptly timed curse, the bus driver pulls out.

As thatched rooves, brick houses, and whitewashed walls roll by I stare at my phone trying to make sense of the bus route and track which stop we’re at. A stone boundary fence keeps the wild grass at by along the edges of the road and an elderly lady stooped over a small army of groceries and a shopping cart waits at the next stop. I watch in concern as she slowly stands up and my gaze darts to the crabby bus driver. The rest of the passengers are almost done disembarking and she’s still slowly assembling her things. To my surprise the crabby bus driver descends from his glass throne at the front of the bus to help her, gently guiding her elbow as she shuffles towards the bus and loading in her groceries after her. She pats his arm in thanks and he bobs his head.

Our stop!

I try to catch the eyes of my fellow travelers and we stumble down to the entrance of the bus, almost falling over a mother and her child sitting near the botttom of the stairs.

“So sorry!” I apologize and the doors are opening. We get out and look up around and everywhere trying to get our bearings. It could be the middle of nowhere or close to our destination we don’t know, but regardless the bus is rolling away.

The wind bites my skin through thin jacket, I look up worriedly at the gathering clouds. If it can just hold off a bit more we’ll be fine. We need to catch a bus to our plane in 3 hours anyways and then not having a waterproof jacket will be irrelevant.

The Old Man in the Castle

The castle is not close to the bus stop. We find that out after wandering to Drimnagh Elementary school. It takes us awhile to realize we are not in fact at the castle, but the playground tips us off. The castle is smaller than the school and sits at the back of a driveway behind the school.

No cars, no hordes of tourists, it looks deserted except for us. Standing alone in the bitter cold it faces the world.

Across the drawbridge, a chill passes over me and the wind howls among the bricks, then out into the courtyard. It’s more of a carriage yard or backyard and a small garden is visible. I turn around looking for someone who might know where we should go. A gardener is trundling a wheelbarrow to the garden and gives us an odd look. Another man with a bushy white beard, a vest, and a thick scarf approaches us.

“Are you looking for a tour?”

“Is it free to look around?”

“Oh yes, or we can give you a tour.”

I look to my fellow travelers.

“It’s only $5 per person.”

Well in that case. We all nod and follow him inside a small office. It’s built of stone and there’s a small stone fireplace inside as well. He lights it and bustles about collecting a small ledger which we sign.

He raises his eyebrow and laughs, then says slowly “Have you been to Ireland before?”

I explain that it’s our first time and our trip is short, in fact we’re leaving that afternoon. He raises his eyebrows at that.

“Well, what brings you to Drimnaugh Castle then?”

“Castles!” I exclaim.

He laughs and looks up from quizzically “Really?”

I hasten to explain, “We don’t have any at home you see. They’re quite rare. We have lots of new buildings, but nothing old like this.”

“Hmm yes well I could see why that would be the case. Still” he laughs again bemusedly and ushers us outside. “In either case thank you for coming to see our little castle here, and hopefully you’ll find what you came here to see.”

We do. And then we take pictures until flustered by the fact that we’re an hour late for our bus we leave in a hurry, never perhaps, to see Drimnaugh castle again. It’s started to rain. As we make our way back to the bus stop my coat slowly becomes plastered to my skin.

The Cashier at the Airport

The bus stop is empty. We’ve run like madmen to get there and there’s no sign of a bus or any car for miles. Our plane leaves in an hour.

“We could walk to a different bus stop?” I suggest. We wait a bit longer and then decide to try that. We spot a bus on a different road,

“That’s the number!” We follow it, running only to ask the bus driver and discover it doesn’t head to the airport for another hour. “Which bus should we take then?”

“There’s one that leaves in 5 minutes from stop 12.”

“Where’s that? and how far?”

6 minutes later we’re at the bus stop flagging down the bus that’s about to leave. The bus driver yells at us as we tumble on and then it’s off. I throw myself into my seat exhausted. The airport is next, and we rush through collecting our boarding passes, rush through security, and finally are left in front of our gate waiting for our plane which is an hour late.

“That would be the case. Well let’s get that beer then.” My friend had been wanting an authentic beer from Ireland since she came but hadn’t managed to find time to order one yet. I hold her beer for her and wait in line. The cashier sees it and gives me a knowing smile.

“American?”

I nod.

“Taking advantage of our younger drinkin’ age eh?”

I frown, confused. How old does she think I am? My friend returns and the cashier continues her train of thought, making jokes the whole time about how I’m trying to get away with tasting a bit of alcohol even though I’m underage. Which I’m not.

There will always be people, who, no matter what you say do or show them will continue to believe what they have decided to believe. So it was with her. Explain as I might, she thought I was a laugh and the fact that I’d almost purchased a beer was a laugh.

Odd.

The plane lifts off and leaves Ireland with its judgments behind.

3 thoughts on “Dublin, Ireland – The Crabby Bus Driver

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