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The man with the £10 note

Today there was an incident on the bus that should be examined. A man got on, he had only a £10 note and wanted to pay by cash. Here in London, most people now use a contactless card called Oystercard, which they put money onto first. But this man wanted to pay with cash. The fare is £2.40, and the bus driver told him that he did not have change to give him, so he could not use his £10 note. The man said he could not get any change as there were no shops nearby, so the driver said he was take him to the next stop only, where there were shops.

When the bus arrived at the next stop, the driver told him he could get off and get some change. But this man wanted change from the driver, and kept repeating that the driver should have change, not taking into account that now people very rarely pay by cash, so bus drivers tend not to have much money on the bus any more. Besides which, from 6th July buses in London will be cashless, so from that date on no one can pay with cash on the bus, they all have to use either Oystercards, a paper bus pass/travelcard, or a contactless credit/debit card.

So this man had this idea that the driver should have change, as if it were a legal requirement. Quite astonishing how arrogant he was, and at the bus stop where he could get off and get change, he refused to get off. Some of the passengers asked him to get off, as the bus driver was not driving the bus with a non-paying passenger on board. So the driver called the Police who eventually arrived and removed him, although by then I had disembarked and got on the bus behind.

So we can learn from this: first, we should not demand that others follow the rules we believe should be in place. For example, there is no legal requirement for the bus driver to have change for passengers nor to even accept banknotes for payment, just as if we were to go into a supermarket and demand they sell us a car, it is just not going to happen, just because we might want it. Or if you went into an estate agent’s office, and asked for a beer and packet of crisps, they are not going to give you those things, even if you say they should have those for sale there.

Second, when we are in the wrong, be humble and either apologise or least stop demanding something that cannot be done. The man wanted change, the driver said it was physically impossible to give him change, so if the man was sensible, or listened to what he was being told, he would have got off the bus and got change, instead of aggressively demanding something impossible as if the whole universe had to make things happen his way. We have to understand that there are many things in this world that we cannot change, no matter what we believe. We have to be realistic. If we want to travel on a bus we need to have the right ticket/card in advance, or the right cash amount (but only up to 5th July here in London) rather than make unrealistic demands of others.

And in all this, we can learn that sometimes it is better to walk away from a difficult situation. I got off the bus as it was going nowhere and got on the one behind, although that then had a problem as he was too close to the one in front, and had to ask the driver of the first bus to move forward slightly before he could pull away. So I still got delayed, but not by too much.

So if you are travelling on a bus in London, remember that from 6th July 2014 you can no longer pay by cash. Get yourself an Oystercard, buy a One Day Travelcard, use a period Travelcard/Bus Pass or use a contactless credit/debit card, or else don’t expect to travel on a bus in London.


Of course the driver could not accept a banknote, it might also have been a fake one, and it is a large amount to give change for.

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