Day off work; impromptu lunch with an old friend; weekend away in a place that I used to live to look forward to. Yep, everything had been going too well.
I left to catch the bus. Journey to Victoria uneventful. But it all went wrong the second I sat down at the coach station.
I’d arrived early to avoid any problems. Arriving so early was the reason I got one.
I had time for a sit down. As I put down my bag and took a pew on an empty bench – thirty-five minutes before the bus was due to leave – I knocked over a cup of coffee that was left under the seat by a passenger who had just got on another coach.
It’s probably empty, I optimistically hoped.
I looked down. Wasn’t empty.
No. Not empty at all. Completely full, apparently.
I covertly put the cup upright; a vain attempt to limit the damage. I looked around. An old lady was looking, scornfully, in my direction.
Then it happened: a slight meandering stream of coffee-coloured liquid emerged from underneath my seat, travelled out from between my legs and into the middle of the waiting area.
That’s probably coffee, I thought.
More people were noticing now. More scornful looks.
I tried to look concerned and helpful. I spent a few seconds looking around for a member of staff, some old newspaper. Nothing, no one to hand. I had to sit there. With that nosey old woman knowing that I’d done it.
It got worse. The trickle of coffee was feeding into a rapidly expanding puddle of latte that was growing to an increasingly worrying size. Slap bang in front of the biggest, toughest-looking, most shaven-headed man I’ve ever seen in my life.
He didn’t see me do it, I’m safe, I thought. But hang on, the old woman. I looked at her. She looked at the puddle, looked at the tough guy, then looked back at me.
She’s going to fucking tell him.
She didn’t. She looked back down at her paper. Result. Might avoid getting my face smashed in.
I looked back at the puddle. Bigger now. How could there possibly be that much coffee? Puddle growing at an exponential rate, tentatively lapping at the hench bloke’s new-looking Timberland boot.
He looked down to his feet. I was scared now. I looked away.
“EXCUSE ME!” he shouted.
When I’d finished shitting myself, I looked over.
He wasn’t yelling at me. HE WASN’T YELLING AT ME! He was in fact beckoning at a guy in a high-vis jacket, drawing his attention to what I’d done.
I looked at the old woman again. She was loving this. What a bitch. And she still looked as if she might tell him.
I got out a magazine. If I look busy, it won’t look like it was me, I thought.
Some time passed. I read a few pages. Then I looked back at the massive man. He was looking outside, gazing wistfully through the glass at the bit where the coaches pull in outside.
I looked down. The puddle was massive. And BOTH HIS FEET WERE IN IT.
He looked at me. I looked at the old woman. She looked at the man. Somehow, there was an understanding. We all knew it was my fault.
He looked at his soggy boots. Looked back at me. Then, just when I thought I was going to die, the coach arrived.
I waited for the skinhead to get on so I could sit as far away as possible for the duration of the three-hour journey from the man whose shoes I’d just soaked.
And the back-stabbing old woman? SHE DIDN’T EVEN GET ON THE FUCKING COACH.