Monday, April 21, 2008

People You Meet on Transit #5



Thanks to Jay Morrison for the photo.


Transit Drivers
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.

8 comments:

Adaora A. said...

Don't forget the really nastyo ones who see you coming and drive off. The bastards.

Niteowl said...

You might call them bastards, I think they just see it as a job perk :P

marjolein said...

My dad was a bus driver once. But that was before he became a geologist.

I've had some mean ones pull up, let a couple people off and then drive away! I couldn't believe it.

Niteowl said...

Bus driver to geologist eh? I imagine having to drive the heterogeneous mass of humanity that is the Transit Ridership can make one commit themselves to the study of rocks.

chelski said...

I love it when someone sprints up to the waiting bus only to have the driver close the doors, move forward 2 feet and then stop at a red light. It's even better when they bang on the door or make pleading gestures. I usually just wave goodbye to them as the bus pulls away.

Niteowl said...

chelski : you're unusually cruel and evil. Not that i've doubted it for a second, I often feel waves of pure evil washing over me. Being your cubicle mate is trying.

andrea said...

who is this gem of a driver of buses who calls out attractions and street names whilst going about his daily drive? usually I get off three stops too early and have to hoof it 20 minutes to my desired destination.

Monkfish said...

I've been on a bus with a guy like that. He calls out some little know historical fact at every stop. I think he's making it up, but then again I usually just put on my ipod to drown him out.