Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Sometimes I wonder if protests are designed to cause more harm annoying others rather than triggering any form of progression. I’ve never been one for protests. More so because I’ve never been near a protest, or if I was I would’ve been working a ten-hour shift. I don’t mean to be dismissive. In fact, I often wonder if I believe in anything enough to protest. My political opinions so far in my short life have only lasted a few months at best before I changed my mind again. I can say with confidence that I disagree with certain elements or political opinions, but I can’t attend their protests and give them volume when I could be showing my face at something worth while. I remember a friend of mine throwing an egg at a so-called ‘political thinker’. I suppose they were conveying their disenchantment. All it done was make that person gain more of a following and appear more in the press.
This particular protest on this particular day that leaded me to be annoyed was one of those protests where I was not a hundred percent sure what was happening. I’m like that at the best of times, let alone when it comes to activism that seems to change definition from country to country.
Not to be selfish or self-centred, but in my little world the biggest impact of this protest was that I had to hop off the bus ten minutes before my stop. I’ve often considered what type of life I would lead if I started my day in a different part of the city. Every day we pass by this perfectly located café busy with financial brokers and actuaries, just metres away from the stop before mine. I had in my head that someday I’d head into town early and fetch a cappuccino from this coffee joint; only to be blown away by the equilibrium of strength and milk, preparing me for a day in my imaginary office. Well, on this particular day of protest I fetched that cappuccino I had dreamed of for so long. As the rain splattered on my low-tied hair, trickling down to the recyclable lid of the takeaway cup, I soon realised that this coffee I had hyped up for months as an onlooker wasn’t even that special.
On my way to college I walked side by side to a man wearing a bomber jacket and chino jeans. I walked two blocks beside him, until I started to slow down due to the added weight of rain on my tote bag full of books. In my head this could have been a newfound connection. We would laugh about how we were both heading to the same place, or maybe his bus had been cancelled too. Until he headed into a financial brokers office. I was no longer in my Merrion Square bus stop with it’s multitudes of cafés, indoor plants, galleries and what seems to be constant sunny weather. Once I turned the corner and saw the green grass of the park my sense of belonging returned. I didn’t feel like a fish out of water. In fact, I felt like a fish in too much water; overly comfortable but needing to bear in mind that I had places to be. The city wasn’t mine to roam, just yet. I had a class in half an hour.
All I remember from that French class was that we learned about ‘Les Gilets Jaunes’ activists and the progress that their protests had triggered. It took me twice as long to walk back to the other bus stop, I didn’t know the way back as well. Every day my way in, I’m on my toes paying attention to each road sign, gathering my bags and preparing to get off. The way home is a different story. I breathe an external sigh while trying to stop myself from falling asleep.
Eventually I reached the next stop; accompanied by its’ sign, along with a sheet of paper titled ‘announcement’ in capital letters. This stop would not be in use, just like my usual one. Which was true, because a bus drove straight past me as I was in the middle of reading the announcement. Instead, the temporary bus stop would be just around the corner, but I didn’t make that bus stop and the driver drove straight past it. “It’s okay,” I convinced myself. Maybe there was no one there yet.
I stood there, at the temporary bus stop, for twenty minutes waiting for the next bus and trying to calculate how long that bus would take. Other buses came and went, I thought nothing of it. A Filipino family stood next to me under the shelter with the most adorable son I had ever seen. He was singing a song in Irish. “Bualadh bos, bualadh bos,” he’d chant. I thought it was hilarious that a boy no older than four who probably spoke three languages could make a connection between two. I struggle to do that as a languages student.
Eventually my bus came. My heart sank. The driver didn’t even glance at this temporary bus stop, let along at me who was waving at him. A Dublin Bus driver had indicated towards me and flashed his lights. I shook my head, as if to say “no, not you” in the nicest way possible. Until he drove towards me and opened his door. “What are you doing there?” He asked me. I quickly explained the situation. He demanded I hop on, and he’ll bring me to the next stop. Free of charge - he insisted - because he was ‘going that way anyway’. Which was very nice of him, but I hope he doesn’t give everyone the same treatment!
For the whole journey I stood beside him, hanging onto the bars. I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps I was exchanging my companionship for this free bus ride. After all, I had three euro leftover in my pocket from the last night I stayed over in Dublin. The bus driver told me his name and that he, too, was from Wexford. He dreamed that some day he could work for Wexford Bus. I didn’t mind getting hit the odd time with the bus’ envelope doors just to hear the rest of his story.
Soon enough we reached the next bus stop, and I thanked the driver. My old college, the one I used to attend. The next bus home wasn’t until an hour’s time. I decided to visit the only nearby (franchise) café. I’m not a fan of franchises, but this is one I wouldn’t even call a guilty pleasure. I ate a mediocre croque monsieur with a tolerable hot drink. Not my usual order, I don’t think I trusted them enough with a cappuccino. I sat there contemplating how different my life would be had I not transferred college and stayed there. Perhaps these days I take advantage of the city-centre location; coffee between classes and casual pints at the end of the day.
The bus stop itself was nothing to go by. Every single person in the group of what seemed to be hundreds were perishing. More people than I ever saw at Merrion Square; where ten is a crowd. A girl complimented my clothes, and it crossed my mind if I would be as approachable if I was a student there, or if I had some sort of ambiance that made it obvious I was an intruder.
My bus came. My weekly ticket stamped. Not only was the bus on time, but five minutes early. I told the driver I had had a mad day all because of one change. He couldn’t believe me. As I got off, he said “see you tomorrow”. He did see me, on our usual journey, at my usual spot, just like every other day.