I discovered something interesting on the weekend. I have a high level of emotional intelligence.
There’s a test you can take to determine this, and my Emotional Intelligence Quotient scored pretty high. I am, in fact, probably more emotionally intelligent than you. I am definitely more emotionally intelligent than my boyfriend (who also took the test) – and I will make sure he never forgets it.
In fact, I am so emotionally intelligent – so very much so – that I knew exactly how to handle an uncomfortable situation on the bus today.
The bus was trundling toward the city, and I was sitting down the front, enjoying my window seat. It was a cold, sunny day in Brisbane today – the type that’s beautiful with a cruel, glittering kind of beauty. It was warm inside the bus, so I was content. As we plunged beneath the city, into the subterranean busway, I started to hear a small noise coming from the back. It was a faint, staccato sound, repeating every few seconds. A small ftss.
I did not turn around. The sound was getting more insistent as we swung past the Queen Street Mall bus stop and up towards daylight. There it was again.
I supposed we had a sufferer of Tourette’s Syndrome on board. No worries – we had someone with Tourette’s in one of my lectures at uni. Once you got past the fact that someone to your left was grunting ‘Hup!’ over every third word the lecturer said, it became nothing more than lecture hall ambience.
Now the sound had gotten out of its seat and was moving towards the front of the bus, becoming more audible.
Ftss. Fksk. FKSK. FUCK’S SAKE!
The sound belonged to a smartly dressed young man with far too much gel in his hair, who evidently wanted to disembark in the city. But this bus didn’t stop in the city – it passed right through on its way to the eastern suburbs. Now Pointy Hair had realised this, and was approaching the bus driver.
As the bus cruised through the last set of traffic lights before the motorway entrance, there was a quiet conversation. It suddenly became loud.
‘I NEED TO GET OUT HERE.’
‘I CAN’T LET YOU OUT ON THE ROAD.’
‘LET ME OUT!’
The bus driver – a tough, middle-aged woman with beefy arms and an operatic voice – yanked the bus vindictively over to the kerb. She leaned on the steering wheel and glared at Pointy Hair.
‘THIS BUS DOES NOT. STOP. IN THE CITY!’
The young man was much calmer now that the bus had stopped. He tried to swipe his Go Card to tag off, but the machine hadn’t registered the stop.
He asked, ‘Could you please turn your machine on?’
‘READ THE FRONT OF THE BUS!’
Meanwhile, two other passengers stood up, the ones who were also on the wrong bus but had chosen to bear it with dignity. Now they were rushing the doors with relieved looks on their faces.
The bus driver was livid. ‘AW LOOK,’ she thundered at Pointy Hair, ‘NOW EVERYONE’S GETTING OUT!’
‘Could you please turn your machine on.’
The bus driver finally switched on the machine, and Pointy Hair and the others quickly tagged off. They exited the bus followed by the bellows of the bus driver: ‘READ THE FRONT OF THE BUS! READ THE FRONT OF THE BUS!’
As the shell-shocked survivors of her wrath scattered on the sidewalk, the bus driver threw a foul look into her rear-view mirror – as if daring any of us to ding the bell – then heaved us back onto the road. We rode onto the motorway in a silence that could’ve combusted. I kept waiting for her to shout at us like a pissed-off teacher who’s just sent the naughty kids to the principal, but still needs to vent. I was waiting for, ‘THAT’S WHY YOU ALWAYS READ THE FRONT OF THE BUS!’ But it never came. It was probably saved up for whoever was waiting for her at home, god rest their soul.
Now, because of my heightened emotional intelligence, I was able to handle this situation very well. (Clearly these EIQ tests are extremely accurate.) When presented with a highly charged atmosphere and a conflict situation, I reacted with the grace and style of someone who has aced the emotional intelligence test.
I ducked down in my seat and tried to stop the tears from coming.
Yep. Watery eyes and a trembling bottom lip. Frightened of the bus driver. That’s the mark of an emotionally superior being, right there. Boom. Take notes everyone, ‘cos this is how we do.