Break Time.

Before I even got on the bus I knew he was a new driver because he was early. If you ride the bus long enough and regularly enough you start to recognize the signs of someone who’s not just new to the route but new to driving a bus professionally. New drivers are always a couple of minutes early because they’re so focused on sticking to the schedule, and the buses they drive are almost completely empty. I don’t know whether this is because the regular riders aren’t expecting the bus to be quite so early and get to the stop after it’s gone by or whether the driver’s focus on sticking to the schedule means there are a lot of people along the line who got passed by. And when I got on there was only me, the driver, and a woman with a baby in a stroller and her son, who was probably about four.

So we zipped along. I sat back and listened to a podcast and counted the number of shocked people standing at bus stops we passed. Then the bus lurched and he pulled over in front of a bus stop. He got out, looked at something, then came back in and pulled out his phone and called someone.

I know this was a violation. Bus drivers aren’t supposed to use their phones, even when they’re not driving. In fact there’s a little metal box that blocks cell signals at the front of the bus. They’re supposed to kep their phones in that, rather than in their pockets. Still we were early, and I even thought that might be why he’d stopped. Bus drivers, especially new ones who are conscientious about the schedule, will often pull over and stop for a few minutes so they don’t get too far ahead. The minutes ticked away. Then another bus on the same route passed us. He’d finished with his phone call so I went up to the front and asked when we’d be underway.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “Got a busted mirror.”

He even showed it to me. While driving too close to the curb he’d hit it against a pole.

Source: imgflip.com

The woman with her young son and the baby in a stroller got out. Lucky for her she only had a little over a block to walk, although that’s still a pretty good jaunt with two kids. And lucky for me another bus came along in a few minutes and stopped.

As for the driver, well, I could have reported him for pulling out his phone instead of calling the dispatcher so we could catch the next bus to go by, but I figured he was new and probably pretty rattled by the experience. I know I would be. Whatever punishment he was going to face for breaking the mirror was going to be bad enough. We’ve all been new in a job and screwed up something. I figured he’d had one bad break that day and deserved a good one.

 

10 Comments

  1. Kristine @MumRevised

    My brother is a firefighter. Driving the truck is likely similar to a bus but with fewer babies and more equipment.
    The crew ‘punishes’ the new drivers for going over curbs or hitting mirrors etc by making them buy pies for everyone in the truck. I hope this guy only had to buy a pie and you get to see him again.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s hilarious and I also wish the driver had to buy pies for the passengers. I wouldn’t ask for a whole pie but there are glazed pocket pies that you can get at any gas station, and at the very least we deserved some of those for having to sit around after he broke the mirror.

      Reply
  2. Arionis

    I’m good at some things in life. Driving large vehicles is not one of them. When I was in the Navy they sent a group of us to take a driving test so we could operate some large moving trucks. The only vehicle the Navy instructor had available for us to take the test in was a school bus. It was painfully obvious that I did not have the skills to drive this bus but they wanted drivers, so after several attempts at the test they just went ahead and gave me the special license. The scary thing is I could have went to any civilian outfit and gotten a job driving a bus with that license. A broken mirror would have been the least of your worries if you had been on my bus. You are a champ for giving him a pass on that one.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Since there were so few of us on the bus I also knew if I reported him he’d know who it was that called in, and really there was no way he was going to get out of having to admit he broke the mirror, so I really just didn’t want to make things any worse for him. There was a little bit of fear in there that he’d be kept on as a driver and could make life difficult for me. Still though I really think being a bus driver is a tough enough job as it is.

      Reply
  3. Allison

    Yeah, I think I would have cut the guy some slack. I was always impressed with the bus drivers in college. UGA has the second largest transit system in the state, behind Atlanta’s rail/bus line, MARTA. The UGA buses were driven by students, and in four years, I was never on one that broke down, hit any object, stationary or sentient.

    I took the Milledge Ave. route, which was Fraternity and Sorority row. Sometimes, if my friends and I were being obnoxious, we’d get off one stop early or one stop late so that people would think we were with a different sorority.

    Those drivers were impressive, though.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s really impressive that the UGA buses were driven by students who were so responsible. Okay, that’s a cheap shot at students, but it’s still pretty impressive. I’d think just because of the law of averages every driver would have at least one accident, and every driver probably did, but because of the law of averages you just happened to miss it when they did.

      Reply
  4. mydangblog

    I would imagine that driving a bus would be really hard, so it could have been much worse than a busted mirror. Have you seen him again? I hope he didn’t get fired!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s funny you should ask because I have seen him again and he’s given me a thumbs up, so maybe he’s reading this blog. That seems unlikely, although it’s a possibility that scares me because now that it’s out there he could get in trouble after all.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    Thanks for another great break, Chris.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I always think one great break deserves another.

      Reply

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