I went on some public transport again today. It was a bus, as you’re asking.
Already pessimistic about how my day was going to unfold – and rightly so, as an eight-hour farce involving me having to sprint between three different computers in a desperate attempt to cobble together the functions of my broken one, and a subsequent and equally annoying event concerning a leaking Biro and a pair of clumsy, ink-covered hands, later proved – I noticed a schoolboy eating a ‘grab’– or, in other words, massive – bag of tangy cheese-flavour Doritos. This being eight fifteen in the morning, that was his breakfast. His breakfast. Doritos. Tangy cheese flavour.
This annoyed me. Ugh, I thought, how disgusting. Why doesn’t he just go the whole hog and tuck into a pillowcase full of nachos slathered with grated cheddar? I had a bowl of Cheerios, and I felt pretty disappointed with myself for that – although whatever’s good enough for Omar Little, the stick-up guy from The Wire, is good enough for me. But Doritos?
However, the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that having tangy cheese Doritos for breakfast was probably better than anything else in the world. I began to feel jealous, watching him cram those little cheesy triangles into his yobby face, wiping their tangy orange residue all over the seats, and the button I’d later have to press to stop the bus.
Then I noticed an advert above his head. For the Education Maintenance Allowance. Or bribe for short. Get up to £30 cash each week, it bragged. For going to school.
On some weeks, after all the food, phone, rent, gas, water, electric and internet bills, I’m chuffed if I’ve got thirty quid left to play with. It dawned on me that not only is this kid living the dream making his way through oversized bags of tangy cheese-flavour Doritos for breakfast, but he’s also got more sodding expendable income than I have.
In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a popular advert for truancy from the 1980s, adolescent protagonist Ferris ‘borrowed a Ferrari and did it, all in a day, while the rest of us were just thinking about it’. Basically, he bunked off, stole a sports car and had a fucking whale of a time. In E.T., soppy loner Elliott feigned illness one morning, presumably to avoid going to school and getting his faced smashed in for having one of those haircuts that look like they were crafted by running a rusty kitchen knife around the edge of a bowl, and ended up adopting a weird potato-faced man made out of shrivelled-up leather.
But would they have done any of this if they were missing out on thirty pounds? No, because when kids are given that much money to waste, for doing something they basically have to do anyway, they don’t need to steal cars or elope with creepy wrinkled aliens to get their kicks. They can just stand on buses having tangy cheese Doritos for breakfast, safe in the knowledge they’re still having more fun than the mugs whose taxes are no doubt paying for them to do so.
Yep, I’m still jealous. And there’s a weird orange residue on my finger…