Deals on wheels - a tawdry tale of drugs on the 27 bus
For the modest ticket price of €1.95 for a trip on a Dublin double-decker you can hardly expect Orient Express standards of civility and decorum. What you don't expect is Midnight Express - or at least a Dublin version of the grim Hollywood tale of drug-dealing and its consequences.
But at 8.30pm last Friday evening on my journey home through suburban Dublin that is exactly what I witnessed on the number 27 bus that terminates in Jobstown.
Our anti-hero had the tight haircut, stubble and the prominent jawline of a real hard chaw of the old school. No doubt he fancies himself as Dublin's equivalent of Tony Montana, Al Pacino's grotesque creation from the 1980s classic Scarface.
He spent much of his trip eyeballing other passengers - that is when he wasn't supplying a pack of drugs to a young man who got on at one stop, came upstairs, picked up the package, handed over the cash and then got off at the next convenient stop.
Dressed in a designer tracksuit, that could have done with 20 minutes in the washer on a "delicates" cycle and sporting expensive runners he sat side-on in his seat - staring intimidatingly at anybody who dared to make eye-contact with him.
"Don't mess with me," was the message. If drug- dealing with impunity wasn't bad enough, he then decided it was time to get whacked out on his own wacky baccy.
Out came a plastic bottle of cola from his holdall and he gulped down most of it in one long draught. It was a hot humid evening.
Then, from his pocket, he produced some aluminium foil, a lighter and some of his produce.
He fashioned a makeshift bong by burning a hole in the side of the bottle. The drugs in the foil were ignited at the neck end and began smoking.
Nobody reacted, nobody said anything and he was allowed to carry on as he wished.
At the next stop, a young man hopped on to the bus, climbed up to the top deck where our man was, by now, completely zonked.
"Have you somethin' for me?" he asked. There is no time for soft chat when a deal is going down, apparently.
An exchange took place as a package was taken from the open bag and passed forward, and there was plenty more where that came from.
It was an efficient way to do his nefarious business I guess. "Deals on wheels", I thought.
The acrid fumes of the drugs he was smoking filled the top deck.
At this stage he was, in the argot of the Dubs, "in flitters."
His eyes rolled in his head. He sprawled in his seat, his body limp.
If another passenger had sparked up a cigarette, there might have been a collective "tut tut".
Someone might even have said something. Maybe told the driver.
But you don't tackle a drug-dealer when he is off his head.
And in fairness why would you put a bus driver at risk?
Last year, a Dublin bus driver was assaulted in what is understood to have been a racial attack while working on Parnell Street in the city centre.
It was just one of a number of incidents where Dublin bus drivers have been assaulted.
I kept my mouth shut, as did the other passengers.
Just as I was watching my little drama unfold last Friday night, social media was becoming agog at video footage of a woman being severely beaten by a man - also on the top deck of a Dublin Bus.
A brutish male in a blue shirt repeatedly struck the helpless woman as those on the pavement below looked up and watched or filmed the ordeal.
The sickening footage went viral and gardai are still looking for the perpetrator.
It's unclear if there was anyone else on the top deck of that bus who could have stopped the woman getting a hiding. But as I witnessed, nobody wants to get involved these days.
On a Dublin bus people tend to mind their own business.
It's safer that way.