I had been out all day. My feet were swollen. My briefcase and handbag had suddenly become like lead bricks in my hands. I was glad to spot a number 199 bus at a stop up ahead, going from Lewisham to Rushey Green. I ran towards the bus stop as fast as my tired legs would carry me, but with little hope of catching the bus, it seemed as if the driver was holding on for me.
As I hopped onto the 1-9-9 and pulled out my pass, I realised that the driver hadn’t been waiting for me at all. He was busy chatting up a little young blonde female driver on a 199 bus heading in the opposite direction. I showed him my bus pass, but he couldn’t be bothered to look at it. So, I walked to the back of the bus and sat down. I would have kicked off my shoes just then, but I knew that I would never be able to get them back on my feet again.
Half a minute later, I heard somebody shouting, “Oui, you, ticket?” The bus driver barked at me in such a rude, obnoxious tone that I heard myself telling him that I’d showed him my pass, and it wasn’t my fault if he didn’t want to look at it. He said,
“You black people in Britain carry on like you’re something special!”
He followed this with some other rude remarks that I just could not hear. He was one of those light-skinned Jamaicans of the type who mistakenly think that they are closer to white and therefore ‘better than’ us darkies. So I asked him, “If you’re so wonderful what are you doing driving a bus?” No disrespect to bus drivers intended. However, I also went on to assure him that here in England his ‘high’ colour light skin made no difference to the British because in their eyes he is just as black as I am.
He was the ‘Mister Brown’ type from back home, who wasn’t used to any backchat, and so he was very upset by my comments. He immediately told me to get off his bus. Well, of course, I declined. So he stopped opposite Lewisham Hospital and refused to go any further. I sat down and tried to collect my thoughts. Some chap from the upper deck came down and took his money back, and most of the other passengers got off the bus.
About twenty minutes later, the police arrived; PL0450, PL0368 and PL233. The tall, well-built middle one asked who was causing trouble, and the driver pointed to me. That’s when PL233 told the rest of the passengers, all white, to get off the bus. PL0450 took my pass to the driver and asked if he had seen it. He looked startled and said he had not, and then the officer returned my pass to me.
The officious-looking PL233 told me that the driver wants me to get off the bus. I told him, the driver has no right to tell me to get off the bus. I got out my mobile phone and tried to ring London Transport to ask the rules and regulations, and why they didn’t have them put up on the bus, but I just could not get them on the mobile.
PL233 tried to be pushy, but I was certainly not getting off that bus. No way were those three police officers going to push me around. I was an elderly person who had done nothing wrong. Plus, I had a valid ticket for my journey. The driver had his ego firmly shattered when I told the coppers what he had said. That’s when PL0368 looked him up and down and said, and I quote, “But he is black.” Poor man. He must have had the shock of his life. All this time he felt superior, and then the British police shattered his confidence by telling him he was black, just like the dark-skinned woman he could not be bothered to lift his head away from the blonde to look at.
He realised then that this woman knew a thing or two. So he refused to tell me to get off the bus. Seems the police themselves could not tell me to get off the bus. I was not misbehaving. Eventually, though, the driver himself told me that I should get off the bus for my own good, as he put it because he didn’t want to see me man-handled. If I had been in America where the police carry guns, they might have shot me dead by now, just as they’ve done to many innocent blacks in recent years. However, the good ole British Bobby had something else up their sleeve.
PL233 radioed for backup, and a vanload of police officers came because he said, I am going to be “acting up,” but I told him I was no actress. He said he was going to count to five.
“You go right on ahead,” I replied. “I won’t stop you. And you should feel free to carry on. If you can count beyond five.”
His face turned a crimson-red and he started to count…slowly. One…Two… His burly mate, PL0368 grabbed my handbag, and I reacted, demanding it back.
“There is no way I want him out of my sight with my handbag,” I told them. “Why?” asked PL233. I said, “I don’t trust you lot because you’ll put things in there and try to frame me.” His other mate PL0450 grabbed my briefcase, and I had to get up then. The other one returned my handbag but the briefcase went off the bus, and he held on to my case while trying to get the driver to drive off, but the driver now refused to move the bus.
Luckily, I saw my granddaughter’s teacher, and she was looking with some surprise on her face at what was going on. PL233 asked if I was taking any medication. “Taking any medication, are you?” he said, in that condescending tone. Of course, I was off the bus by now, and the driver seeing the overreaction of these police officers with three of them on the bus and a vanload outside the bus had begun to regret his hand in the whole affair. You could see it written on his face.
PL0450 handed back my briefcase and the driver drove off. Later, their superior officer said that the driver had told them that I was swearing and carrying on, but he said no such thing in my presence, and of course, he would have been lying.
My granddaughter’s teacher approached us and asked what the problem was. She said she had never seen anything like it before in all her life. She asked to see their superior. She had been on the bus all this time and had watched those police officers goading and teasing me like some rabid dog. She hadn’t realised it was me at first; she said, as we boarded another bus together and talked about the incident. As for me, I just couldn’t understand why those police officers had come on a bus, full of other passengers, and had not asked any of them if they had heard or seen what happened.
They were more than willing, prepared, and able to drag me off to a mental asylum, and then have one of their doctors certify that I am suffering from any number of their psychosis. Then, you see, before anyone could say twenty-eight days section, they would have me carted away and locked up in a padded cell for theirs and my protection. Then, just to make sure that I would deserve my stay, they would start injecting me with their serums and potions, and once they start to inject our people, if you didn’t have a psychosis before, you can be damn well sure that you will have one now.