Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Curse of a Guilty Conscience.


This was a jam-packed weekend. On Friday night I was heading to Leixlip for the DVD showing of our recent panto The Sleeping Beauty. On Saturday I was meeting some of the women in Dublin for an overnight stay.
The fact that it was a rugby weekend and the place would be over run with sexy French men was purely coincidental!!!
Then Sunday saw me back in Leixlip for an afternoon rehearsal of "Tom and Viv". Hectic schedule.
We were staying in a hotel on Harcourt street, which was great in one way as it was right in the heart of the action, but on the downside it didn't have parking. So I hit on the idea of leaving my car at Anne's on Friday night, get the bus into town on Saturday, hit the tiles, get the bus back for Sunday rehearsal and then head home. Perfect.
I haven't been on a bus since college many, many moons ago. And it soon became obvious!
I hopped onto the 66A and flashed my five euro note at the driver who was encased behind a perspex wall.
Was that for my protection or his??
"One for City Centre, please."
He replied something incomprehensible.
"City Centre please."
Same response.
This misunderstanding may have been the result of a language barrier. But I can't really say, as the thick perspex muffled all sound.
By this time we had taken off and I was channelling my inner elephant trying to plonk my feet firmly on the swaying floor and not topple over.
I eventually managed to work out what he meant. He didn't accept any money. You had to put the exact fare in a little machine
that had a big sign that said "Exact fare only". Oops, hadn't seen that.
As we careered around a corner I was flung into a nearby seat. So I had a chance to root around my purse and find the €2.30
Disaster. I had about 27c in coins.
I sat there in a tizzy. Now what should I do? I didn't have the coins to pay the fare. I couldn't get off the bus because I'd have to get another one back to Leixlip, which would also probably need the exact fare which, if you are still paying attention, was the reason I was in this quandary in the first place.I decided to sit it out! And that was when my good Catholic upbringing came into play....namely I was racked by guilt!
I am a very honest person, honest! I have never stolen anything in my life, I pay all my bills by direct debit so that they won't be late and on the few occasions that I have received too MUCH money back in my change, I have felt obliged to tell the shop assistant of their mistake and give back the excess.
After all, not paying ones dues breaks the fifth commandment and is a sin!
However, my over eager conscience went into overdrive.
"Oh my God. I can't pay my fare".
I was beginning to come out in a sweat. I had knots in my stomach. Every time the bus pulled up at a stop,I was craning my neck to see who was waiting. I was sure an inspector was going to hop on, catch me ticketless and physically eject me from the bus in full view of everyone.
Noeleen, cop onto yourself. If an inspector does get on, all you have to do is explain that the last time you were on a bus there was a driver and a conductor, who had one of those contraptions whereby you gave him some money, he turned a handle and gave you back a ticket....and your change! And then I could bribe the inspector with my fiver!.
Nevertheless, the relief was overwhelming when O'Connell Street came into view. Then I had another dilemma.
What do I do getting off the bus? Do I try to explain again, despite the fact that we couldn't understand each other? Or do I make a run for it?
I am ashamed to say that I got off the bus cleverly concealed in the middle of all the other commuters. Even as I walked away I had visions of the bus driver jumping out of his seat and coming running after me looking for his €2.30
He didn't.
As I pounded the pavement I had a good old chat with myself.
Get over yourself. It's not as if you deliberately tried to avoid paying the fare. And it was only a few euro. After all, the whole country is bankrupt. And the people responsible for it have no qualms about not paying back the millions, nay, billions that they owe. Your measly €2.30 is not going to make a difference.
And yet I can't convince my conscience that it's alright. Even writing this, I still feel guilty and that I have done something wrong. When the Catholic Church implant an idea there's no getting away from it!
I suppose I better say ten Hail Marys!

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