gra-dult-hood n.

1. A stage in life between graduation and adulthood.
2. Gradulthood often involves jobs that don't fulfil a graduate's expectations.
3. A term coined during the recession.

Now Thats What I Call Thrift #28

This blog has preached of mobility from the start. In this day and age gradults need to be agile. They need to be able to chase a job around the country at the drop of an email. To achieve this they need to be mobile. Of course, mobility is made easier for some gradults by the presence of their own car. I don’t have this luxury. Is this because my geography degree made me too concerned about my carbon footprint? Or maybe as the poster boy for thrifty gradults, I like to keep my running costs low? Nope, that’s not it either. If memory serves me correct, it’s because my one test descended into a hazy blur of wet palms and failed manoeuvres. It wasn’t the disappointment on my driving instructor’s face that hurt; it was his complete lack of surprise. To be fair, seeing me stall from the test centre car park must have given him some indication of how things were going to turn out.

As a gradult without wheels I’ve always had to look for alternative means of transportation. And as a thrifty gradult, there is only ever one real option: Thrift 28: The National Express.

Just want to nip something in the bud – Thrift 12 was about the Megabus – and it was about a certain deal – and it wasn’t written by me, ok?

Back to business. Now the National Express can often make for a difficult voyage for fragile gradults. Luckily, I’m a veteran. Here are five tips to help gradults come through their thrifty journey unscathed.

Get the back row. As a tall guy, leg room is a big issue for me on the Express. I can either pin my knees to the chair in front or go diagonal and pin them against my neighbour’s thigh. Naturally I hobble off each coach with stiffer knees than Ledley King. But there is a third option. The back row offers one seat where you can stretch out into the aisle. Get there early, get that seat. Although on the downside, it is next to the toilet.

Set up camp early. This is a necessity. Sandwiches, reading material, phone – get it out before setting off. Once you’re penned in, even the simplest tasks become a logistical nightmare. After departure, taking your coat off becomes a drawn out affair that can take several miles to build up to. Avoid it.

Choose your seating companion wisely. ‘Wacky’ ‘Eccentric’ ‘Unique’ ‘Err yeah, he’s a nice guy really – bit weird.’ If you think the following descriptions match the person you’re considering sitting next to, don’t do it. Not unless you want to spend the next three hours smiling at their jokes. Or pretending to be asleep. My policy is: who will talk to me the least? Don't be a hero. You've got to be a realist in this game.

Wear headphones. The whole conversation of the two battle hardened Yorkshire lasses next to you. Half the exchange of the ridiculously obnoxious guy on the phone. The ebb and flow of the happy house music escaping from some chav’s headphones. Or maybe the bus driver who sees the safety announcements as ‘his time to shine’. These are not going to help your journey, drown them out.

Sit back and think of thriftiness. As you gaze out at the endless miles of motorway. Your feet practically flirting with deep vein thrombosis and the clock taunting you with its sluggishness. Relax. Take a deep breath and think of the thrift. That'll see you through.

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