Wake-Up Call.

An all-day pass on Nashville’s MTA will allow you to ride until 2AM the following day which has always made me think it’s slightly misnamed. If you buy one at 2PM you get to ride for twelve hours; if you buy one at 10PM you only get to ride for four hours, but you also get to hop on and off as many buses as you want for $3.25 so I’m not going to quibble about it.

I was contemplating all this while I sat on an early morning bus waiting for the driver to get a cup of coffee and come back. I think it was her first run of the day so I didn’t mind the wait, especially since I can’t really get the day started without a little caffeine buzz of my own, but that’s another story.

Then she came back and we started talking. We talked a bit about coffee at first; she liked hers plain with a little cream, and added, “You know, those expensive foamy things are for people who don’t like coffee. They want a milkshake.” That made me laugh and then I asked if this was her first run of the day.

“Sort of,” she said, then explained that she’d spent the night at the downtown bus depot which I didn’t realize had sleeping quarters and showers for drivers.

“I worked the end shift last night and then the first shift this morning. Between the hour drive home and the hour drive back I’d have maybe an hour to sleep at home so I just stayed over.”

I did some mental math based on the schedule. Staying over had gotten her at most three hours’ sleep which still wasn’t enough but at least was better than only one.

She went on to tell me she was working extra time to earn money to build a pool, an unusual thing to have in Tennessee, but she’d moved here from Cleveland so even January’s worst in this neck of the woods must seem balmy compared to northern Ohio.

It was just the two of us for most of the trip, but by the time I disembarked several more people had gotten on. I thanked her on my way out.

“Thanks for helping me wake up,” she said.

Next time I’ll buy the coffee.


Facebook Comments


  1. Allison

    I wonder if there’s any sort of federal regulation for drivers of commercial transportation? I know truckers have to get a certain amount of sleep every X hours, but does it apply to drivers? I know Uber drivers who come off an 8 hour “first job” and come drive for another 4-6 hours.

    I appreciate the hustle in their side hustle, but it’s worrisome that tired drivers are out there. The stats show that sleep deprivation is as bad for reaction times as alcohol. I don’t know what the solution is – I think it’s part of becoming a 24-7 society. Sometimes it’s great, but a lot of people pay the price.

    My father worked nights until he was in his late 50s, and while we benefited from having him around for us, I know it took a longterm toll on his health…

    Interesting to think about.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      If there aren’t federal regulations for bus drivers there should be. I don’t want to get the driver in trouble because I know she was trying to earn some extra money, but, you’re right, not getting enough sleep while driving is extremely dangerous. My wife goes to dog shows and for several years they’ve had something called the Live To Run Again program. A woman fell asleep at the wheel driving home from a show and was killed. They now give away free audio books at dog shows to help people stay awake on the road, but even better is getting a full night’s sleep.

  2. Ann Koplow

    Another great ride with good company, Chris. Thanks.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Thank you for accompanying me on the ride.


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