Tuesday, October 30, 2012

fear and loathing in the driver's seat

the endless loop of a municipal bus driver's route is enough to drive one mad.  this sisyphean task is almost interesting the first few times, but the eventual redundancy of the route, meaningless "good morning"s and countless explanations of the fare structure pounds the senses so dull, it makes an opium-den look perky.  add the occasional raving, psychopath's behavior and the frequent raging, sociopath's driving that surrounds a typical bus driver and little room is left for sanity.  as if the cultural hostility towards the bus weren't enough, the anti-transportation folks exhibit street-level hostility when they drive, honking when the bus makes a stop, cutting it off when it tries to merge back in and passing with dangerous speed and expeditious intent nullified by a red light or the stop sign at the next intersection.

coping with all this hostility is primarily achieved by taking the occasional power trip.  when people don't give a handicapped person a seat, the bus driver pulls over.  when passengers don't stand far enough behind the yellow line, the driver stops again.  this one negotiating lever is all it takes to go from being the shithead driving that hulking tank that's in everyone's way to god.  the peer pressure that coerces the sober into drug use can not compare to the rage an entire bus can bring down on someone who holds up the already slow and stop-filled trip.  bus drivers have little in their repertoire other than this to whip pesky bus riders into shape.  luckily, its use is rarely needed.

another primary coping mechanism is commiserating with riders.  thanks to the "unnecessary conversation with driver is prohibited" sign, i always worry that the weaving in and out of rush hour traffic takes too much concentration and discussion of which toys a particular rider is buying for his child for the party in the park their entire extended family of 60 is coming to will cause an accident.  as yet, no such misfortune has happened while i've been riding.  the only time i've had to get off a bus and wait for a replacement to show up was when the wheelchair lift strained too hard to lift an obese rider and prevented the door from shutting.

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