Thanks to Jay Morrison for the photo.
Bus drivers are an archetype in North American culture. In the imagination they are generous in girth, have staunch opinions about unions and eat 300% the recommended intake of red meat. The odd one adheres to a strict conspiracy theory, which they manage to work into the most innocuous conversations.
At least, that's what's been ingrained in our collective subconscious along with "Han shot first" and "Dukakis, 1988".
But transit drivers, like everyone else, are individuals. Unique, utterly one of a kind from the 5 billion others who roam this spinning mass of molten iron with the cool, carbon life-form infested shell. Sure, you see the reticent ones, who have a 100 yard stare and coolly watch passengers get mild hypothermia while they take their union-sanctioned 15 minute break inside their cozy bus. But there are other, more colourful characters as well.
In my city, there is one that calls out every stop and what attractions might be nearby. "Macdonald street, Safeway, Plenty Clothing store, Exotic Tanning Salon". I imagine he hankers for the heady years of Roarin' 30's, with it's flappers and Prohibition; when a competent elevator boy could make enough to feed his family of 17 who dwell in a one bedroom apartment in the poorer section of the Bronx.
There is something inspiring about that; someone taking the care to make every stop special in some way. Someone who maintains the verve and energy for their work as very few without a limitless Percocet prescription can manage. Of all the jobs out there where one could maintain an enthusiasm, Bus Driver would certainly be down the list (top of the list? Idle Rich, Space Ship Pilot, Lewdness Censor).
Last week there was a fellow who was talking about a Cleanse he had just finished, and hoping that he had flushed his system fully of toxins. If that isn't bursting through stereotypical boundaries, I don't know what is.