Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Elitist Nightclub a Birdee No-No

I was going through some old documents on the computer, which I'd written years ago. For as long as I've had access to software like Word (and WordPerfect before it), I've always typed up my thoughts on certain issues, events or experiences and saved them as Word documents. I don't know exactly what I'd planned to do with them. Perhaps I thought I'd compile them for a book. But what a crazy, all-over-the-place book that would be. This blog seems more appropriate for such thoughts.

One document in particular described my frustration with a certain Brisbane nightclub. Having performed at the majority of clubs and pubs in Brisbane, and visited the ones who don't host live music, there's one venue I have never set foot in. A venue that so many people speak highly of. A venue that I've been invited to on several occasions to meet people or celebrate birthdays. A venue that always has a long queue outside. A venue whose security staff have never let me enter. A venue called "Birdee Num Num".

Friday, 18 August 2006: 
There’s an elitist club in the Valley called “Birdee Num Num” who, without fail, no matter what you’re wearing, no matter what night it is, never let males in who don’t look like Calvin Klein models with perfectly styled hair and flawless faces. 

Most girls, depending on how close they compare to Paris Hilton in looks, can go in wearing next to nothing, and a pair of thongs. 
Guys who look rich, popular and good looking by model standards (face, hair, muscles, etc.) can get in wearing very casual, laid back clothes. Guys without those looks are refused entry, even if they’re wearing exactly the same outfit. You could be dressed in your absolute best, with the most expensive jeans and the smartest of shirts and shoes, and they’ll still look you up and down and say you’re not abiding by the dress code, despite the fact that the person who they let in ahead of you is wearing exactly the same as what you’re wearing. 
The dress code is very vaguely described on their website, but points out that they can’t give too much detail of it due to “legal reasons” (i.e. they’ll let you in or turn you away based on their mood and who they think is pretty enough to get in – hate crimes like that should be illegal!).

If you are having a decent hair day, and you do happen to be wearing what the bouncers consider appropriate, depending on their mood at that particular moment, they will then ask you for a student ID or a passport. That’s when they decide on the spot that the club is only for students and backpackers, which is a load of rubbish because most of the people you meet who frequent the venue are neither.

So don’t even waste your time lining up in that long queue to give those prejudiced fascists at Birdee Num Num your business. Anyone who refuses to let you pay them money for drinks because they don’t think you’re physically attractive enough, doesn’t deserve any business at all.

And anyone who brags to you about how great Birdee Num Num is from the inside, are quite often the same people who speed down the road in their car, shouting obscenities and throwing cans out the window at you, with some bland, top 40 chart trash blasting out of the stereo. The same homophobes who attack you for being gay, even if you’re not. The same morons who poke sticks at dogs and beat up women. 

Basically the staff of Birdee Num Num and the majority of the people who they accept through those exclusive doors are close-minded jerks. It’s a shame such a snobby club’s name is based on a line from the classic Peter Sellers film, “The Party” (1968), which I’m certain nobody inside has ever seen, or has any intention to see, because they’re too cool and good looking to watch some old movie nobody’s heard of. 

Birdie Num Num scene from "The Party" (1968)
Birdie Num Num / Howdy Partner 
Intercom scene from "The Party" (1968)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Bumbling Brisbane Buses, Part 3: The Passengers

 “Why is the bus PACKED at 1:30pm? I stood in the rain for nearly an hour waiting for it. Now I have to stand all the way home. Grumble.”

“Hurry hurry push push! Every man, woman and child for themselves onto the overcrowded bus!”

 It’s amazing how many people use the bus. Even on the 5am bus, you’d be surprised how many people get on at that time of morning. Yet strangely, I never see those double buses (they call them banana buses) during peak times. The small buses are always packed like sardine cans during peak times, while the banana buses only ever seem to be on the road at 11am with three passengers on them. Doesn’t make sense. 

 People from all walks of life use the buses. The elderly of course. Watch out for them. If you’re standing, and an old lady leaves her seat to get off, don’t be so eager to sit in it right away. Look first. A lot of old ladies seem to see the bus as a moving portaloo, with a soft toilet seat. I mean, the bus smells like a toilet, so why not use it as one?  I have always checked the seat first before sitting in it... Ever since I fell victim to the “puddle of doom”.

While we’re on that subject, let me refer you to another Facebook moment:
Brett: Oh no! A homeless man just got on the bus with a juice bottle of his own urine! :(
Kelly: Are you sure it wasn't apple juice?
Brett: I'm certain it wasn't. He looked as though he hadn't bathed or shaved in years. He was completely covered in filth and stunk to high hell. It was a dirty, grotty old bottle. It had to be wee.

I hate when people sit next to me on the bus. They never want to move when it's time for me to to get off. Serves me right for leaving the seat empty I guess. I should sit on the aisle seat or dump all my stuff on it like everyone else does when I get on the bus of an afternoon and want a seat. I've always got a bag or two with me, an umbrella if it's raining. So, as a bit of a warning to the person on the aisle seat, I start gathering all my stuff together. Surely me fidgeting around and picking everything up is first sign that I'm about to get out. But no. Then I reach across in front of their face to press the button. Still no clue. Then I attempt to stand up, and say "Excuse me" before they finally turn to me with a completely astonished look on their face as if to say, "What? You're getting off NOW? Why?"

And then, instead of actually getting up out of their seat to let me through, they reluctantly just shuffle their legs across a bit towards the general direction the aisle. This really makes no difference. So I am forced to sidle past, rub up against them, and hit them a few times with my stuff.  Hey! YOU sat next to ME! Sorry to have inconvenienced you by leaving a seat vacant!

Thankfully, I’ve never had to sit next to the psychotic mental case woman who travels home in the early evenings. Once, a young girl was trying to leave her window seat, and this absolute witch sat there with her arms folded, shouting, “No! No! No! You can’t get out! I’m not moving!” And this girl had to resort to calling the driver. “Excuse me, Driver? This lady won’t let me leave my seat!”, she had to call out in desperation. The driver had to stop the bus and walk over there to sort it out. The mental case eventually gave in, but grumbled and swore about it the rest of the way.  I always worry that she, or someone like her will sit next to me someday. It’s bad enough when the majority of people who sit next to me have a problem with letting me leave the seat, but at least they make a reluctant attempt.

 I talked in Part 1 of my Brisbane Bus blog posts about when I get on the bus in my supermarket uniform. When I'm standing on the bus, and I see a vacant seat, people will often place their handbags or belongings onto the seat so I can't sit down, even if I'm carrying several bags of groceries. This is what I should be doing to prevent idiots from sitting next to me. But since I’m a sucker and a doormat, I do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I leave the seat vacant for others, just so they can later be annoyed at me when I want to get off the bus.

There have been some wacky characters on that 5am bus over the last few years. Like the mournful crazy lady who would sit towards the front of the bus and scream about the end of the world, and how humanity is doomed! Always a nice pick-me-up to start the day with. Then there was the old man who always had a giant newspaper opened on the horse racing pages. He’d study those races real hard every morning. I imagine he must’ve spent his days at the TAB or the Doomben racetrack.

There’s “Always Drunk Guy”. He stumbles onto the bus every morning with blood shot eyes, and always gets off at the Normanby Hotel. They don’t open for at least another five hours after he gets off the bus, but I guess he likes to be first in and last to leave. There’s “Really Bad B.O. combined with Vindaloo Curry Guy”. Such a horrible combination of smells. He doesn’t wear deodorant and wears the same clothes every day. I guess he spilt vindaloo curry on that outfit once. 

 The 5am bus has always been popular with the guys who wear fluro yellow and fluro orange. These are the construction workers, road workers, truck drivers, storemen, people who work down in the Roma Street train yard. Good old Aussie larrikins. Always having a laugh and coughing up a storm from all the cigarettes they smoke. 

 Chefs fill the back two rows of the bus. With their black and white checkered pants, they fill the air with the smell of kitchens, dishtowels, and farts. Yes farts. These guys are pumping gas throughout the entire journey. Not deliberately. I think it just must go hand in hand with all of that slaving over hot stoves all day. I know it’s them, because I once found myself surrounded by them when I foolishly decided to choose the seat at the back left corner of the bus.

Boy, do those chefs have stories to tell though! I recently overheard one of them describing a physical fight he got into with two other chefs in a kitchen. Perhaps it was in the restaurant where you had lunch last weekend! I can tell you that there was a lot of slapping involved in this fight. But thankfully, no fry pans or rolling pins. When we dine out, we often forget that there may be a bit of a biff out the back during the preparation of the meals. If you’re ever impressed with your meal, just bare in mind that the extra ingredient could’ve been slaps. 

 There’s a zoot suited 1930’s swingin’ hep cat jazz musician who sometimes boards the 5am bus, and for a while there was a girl with a short hair style much like a Vulcan (Mr. Spock from Star Trek, played by Leonard Nimoy), who would spend the entire trip caking on 200 layers of makeup. 

 There’s a crazy old man who often boards the bus (at all times of day) dressed in an old Army uniform, sometimes a Batman suit, and as Santa Claus at Christmas time. I posted this Facebook status on Christmas Eve, 2010 on my way to work: “5am bus was decorated for Christmas. Driver was nice. Chatted with him throughout the trip. Then the old mental case who dresses up in various costumes the rest of the year hopped on as Santa. Then Powderfinger came on the radio and the driver cranked it.”
When Santa hopped on the bus, I remember the driver making a lighthearted comment about the Christmas spirit, to which Santa responded with an angry look on his face, “BWAAAPH!!”

I guess it’s nice to walk onto a bus that’s decorated for Christmas. I’m not so fussed on the State of Origin bus though.

Brett: I'm on the decorated State of Origin bus this morning. 
Katie: Hahaha! I love the plastic cut outs of the players.

Brett: I enjoyed watching people getting tapped on the head by balloons, swiped across the face by triangular flags, and one guy at the front having to lift a ‘Go Queenslander’ poster to see a map and some bus information. Translink - Because if we put as much effort into our service as we put into pointless decorations about a football game, we'd probably be pretty good.

There are quite a few angry mothers with large prams and strollers who get on the bus in the afternoon. When I’m standing, and can’t move due to being squashed between crowds of other standing people and people on seats, I don’t appreciate being the one who gets screamed at by one of these mothers: “Can you MOVE so I can get through?” A polite “excuse me” would be a much better way to handle the situation. But I had moved as much as I could without sitting on someone’s lap. 

There’s a delightful, well dressed nerdy fellow in his late thirties who wears a feather in his hat, and likes to help the bus driver when it comes to orderly departures from an overcrowded bus in the afternoon. “Ok everyone! Let’s form a straight line to the right of the aisle”, he calls out. “All those wanting to depart the vehicle, please form a line to the left of the aisle! It’s ok, nobody’s going to be left behind!”

 One Saturday afternoon, my wife and I were on the inbound bus from Holland Park, and witnessed three disgusting, trashy, fake tanned Paris Hilton-esqe bimbo skanks getting on the bus, sitting down next to a random guy, and proceeding to chat him up! They were talking and swearing really loudly! Really vulgar. And the guy didn’t seem the least bit interested. He just seemed really uncomfortable with the whole situation. The lead girl was asking, “You’re really cute! Do you think me and my friends are hot?” I think everyone on the bus felt uncomfortable. It was like watching some awful reality TV show playing out live on the bus. Clearly these sorts of shows are all these girls watch.  As we got off the bus in the King George Square Busway, a guy dressed as Superman was walking around! 

It’s not just the other passengers who are the weirdos or horrible people though. Sometimes I’m the jerk. But not physically or vocally to anybody. I'm a jerk in my head. Such thoughts are shared on Facebook:
“A kid got on the bus with his Manual Arts lawn chair made at school. I wish I could see the poor schmuck who falls through that balsa wood disaster!”
“Probably his old man I should think”, commented Lauren.
“The kid is learning”, said Ellen. “Give him a break! Learning is never a disaster”.
Feeling guilty, I commened, “Without a doubt, karma will ensure that I somehow end up on that chair, and then on the ground”. 

And that pretty much sums up life on Brisbane's buses. Never a dull moment. The buses come when they feel like it, and will keep you waiting forever if they can get away with it. The drivers are grouchy and make up their own rules as they go. Once you're on the bus, good luck getting a seat. And once you're on a seat, good luck getting out. It's all part of the fun. Those bumbling Brisbane buses. If only we had a tram system like Melbourne's. And a monorail like in Sydney. We have a long way to go. Better call a cab to ensure we get there on time.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Bumbling Brisbane Buses, Part 2: The Drivers

 Many of Brisbane's bus drivers are crazy characters. Yes, most are grumpy, angry old sods. But occasionally, you’ll get a friendly greeting on the way in, and a wave and best wishes on the way out. Unfortunately, this is quite a rare treat for me. I usually get all the psychos.

Take for example the woman driving the 5am bus one morning who said to me, “It’s too dark to see you! You’re not making yourself noticeable enough! You’re supposed to take out your mobile phone and hail the bus with that!” After picking up a few more passengers, she stopped at a tree by the side of the road, and proceeded to pick flowers from it. She collected quite a bunch! This was not a bus stop. It was just a particular tree of flowers she took a liking to. 

The very next morning, I hailed the bus with my mobile phone to make myself noticeable in the dark. When the door of the bus opened, I copped an ear full from an extremely angry bloke wearing a cap and thick glasses. “Look!”, he shouted. “I can see you from the other end of the street! You don’t need to hail with that phone! I’m not blind, you know!” I’ve had this driver a few more times, and even once when I happened to have my phone out just to check the weather forecast, he gave me this spiel again. I wasn’t even hailing the bus with it!

Other Nazi bus drivers obsessed with trivial hailing etiquette have pointed out that:
-       I hail the bus for too long (needs to be no longer than one and a half seconds), and
-       I need to stand back and hail so that my hand stretches no further than the edge of the gutter.

I often wish there was some sort of iPhone app or text messaging service that gives a heads up on the drivers and their pet peeves for whichever bus you plan to catch. That way you can be prepared to hail with or without a mobile phone, you can time your hail, and stretch out as far as is necessary to keep the peace.

And it’s not just the early morning drivers who are scary. Another Facebook moment:
Brett: My music is drowning out the sound of an angry bus driver who has totally lost it! Screaming at kids and grumbling to himself.
Dione: Here's hoping he calms down. The evening commute is bad enough without having to call in the hostage negotiators.

A couple of the other regular bus drivers I encounter include:

A Peter Lorre lookalike

And a fine, upstanding admiral type with a neatly trimmed, old fashioned beard, who looks a bit like King George V

This particular driver likes to listen to old timey brass music from the era he looks like he's from. The following piece of music (“Waltzing In Dreamland” by  Alan Moorhouse) sounds very much like what he was listens to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyz2awlf8PA Just ignore the fact that it’s a piece of music used in “Spongebob Squarepants”. It is as close as I could find on the net to the kind of music I’m trying to describe.

Yes friends. I've been refused entry onto buses for having a keyboard in my hand. I've been yelled at for asking which bus it is because the sign at the front is blank. But that's not to say I haven't had the odd pleasant conversation with one of those rare friendly drivers. The drivers who welcome you with a smile are always the best ones. But the grumpy psychos are certainly the most memorable ones.

My next blog post will be the third and final "Bumbling Brisbane Buses" chapter, where I'll talk about some of my fellow bus passengers. Seat wetting grannies, farting chefs, Vulcans, loonies in Santa Claus suits, and more!

Bumbling Brisbane Buses, Part 1: The Service

“I truly can’t help but find your bus stories amusing”, comments Peter, a friend on Facebook. “They bring a smile to my face every time I read them. I’ve never known one bloke to have so much bad luck with the transport system”

“Every morning I look forward to reading your post before work”, says Jade.   
“Never a dull moment with your 5am bus, Brett”, comments Wendy.   
“What would the morning be without your post on trips to work?”, wonders Mary-Ann. 
Just some of the feedback I receive on Facebook in response to my stories about what I like to call Brisbane’s “come if we feel like it” bus service.  

A great deal of my time each day is spent either waiting for buses, running after buses, travelling on buses… or riding in taxis. You would think that someone with as many years of public transport experience as I would be an expert on how it all works. But the truth is, I am baffled each and every day by the new rules that seem to be made up on the spot, depending on the driver at the time. 

Depending on the driver, the timetable is different at that particular moment. Depending on the driver, the bus does or doesn’t go along certain routes. Depending on the driver, there are certain etiquettes involved when it comes to hailing the bus at different times of day, depending on the sunlight, or lack thereof. 

It is very important to already be at the stop before the time the bus is scheduled to be there. If you’re approaching the stop as the bus is approaching, and you hail it as you’re walking (even if you’re just centimetres from the stop), forget about it. He’s not going to stop for you. The one time a bus did stop for me in this instance, the driver told me that they can’t stop unless you’re already at the stop. Since then, I’ve always tried to be at the stop ten minutes early.

But there have been many times, especially when it comes to the first bus of the day at 5am (which I rely on to get to work each morning,) where the driver wants to zip through early before all the passengers have made it to their stops. On many occasions, as I’ve been approaching the stop in the cold darkness of 4:50am, the bus has roared up behind me. I’ve hailed it as I run closer to the stop, but he keeps going. I would start running down the street to chase him, but I’m just not fast enough. This is where I have no choice but to call a cab. The next bus isn’t due until I’m meant to be at work. And I can’t call in late, because I’m the first person there. 

“Insane morning! 5am bus zoomed through 10 mins early! Tried to chase it! Lost my GO card while running after it. Tried to retrace my steps back in the dark. Couldn't find it. Called a cab. He went all the longest ways, ignoring my directions. Jen then searched and found my GO Card, and texted me. Best wife ever! Stupid 5am bus”.

On one occasion, I was there, ready at the stop at 4:50am. I proudly hailed as the driver reluctantly pulled up. Most of the 5am bus drivers are quite grouchy, and my polite “Good morning” greeting with a smile is almost always met with either silence or grumbling.  So you can imagine how annoyed this driver was when I was there waiting for him as he tried to get a ten minute head start. So from inside the bus, I was fascinated to see what this early rush past all the stops was like from the other side: Good thing I'm dragging myself out of bed even earlier to get this 5am bus. He just zoomed past two stops with people desperately running to catch up! I'm not the only one who often starts the day running after a bus, and having to call a cab.” If I hadn’t been there to hold him up at at 4:50 that morning, he could’ve driven past those stops before those people had left their houses.

Then there are the occasions where the bus just doesn’t show up at all. You get there early. You wait. The scheduled time comes and goes. Before you know it, the bus is ten minutes late, twenty minutes late, forty five minutes late. At that point, you can usually assume the bus isn't coming. 

Later in the morning, when the “normal” people are going to their nine-to-five jobs, there are a few more buses scheduled to get people to the city. But even then, you can’t always rely on them. As a retail worker, I’ve had all sorts of starting times. Sometimes, I've joined the "normals" in their morning peek travel: I was ready and waiting for a bus early enough to get me to work on time. 40 mins later, 2 buses are late. Now I’ll be late.”  That day, a bus eventually showed up 45 minutes later. A crowd for both buses had gathered in that time. Every stop along the way had about ten people waiting. You can imagine what an unpleasant sardine can of a ride that was.

After an exhausting day at work, when all you want to do is just go home, this is the last thing you want to happen: “Bus driver wouldn't let me on! He stopped to let someone off, but wouldn't open the front door, even when I banged on it! And it's not like the bus was full or anything! He just wouldn't turn and look! I was there banging on the front door like an idiot and he wouldn't look! I was invisible! And nobody on the bus cared to say, "Excuse me Driver! Someone wants to get on!" They just watched me calmly from their windows, and sat silently as the bus drove away. When I'm on the bus, and someone outside is trying to get on, or they're running to get to the stop at the last minute, passengers always call out to the driver to alert him/her. But not for me!”

I often wonder if it has anything to do with the supermarket worker’s uniform I wear. I wonder if the negative picture current affairs shows have painted of people who work at supermarkets has caused a bit of discrimination against us. When I'm standing on the bus, and I see a vacant seat, people will often place their handbags onto the seat so I can't sit down, even if I'm carrying several bags of groceries. And I guess the same goes for when I want to get on the bus. The driver ignores me, and the people just watch, because they don't want a filthy supermarket worker on the bus with them. Friends have suggested that I wear a different outfit before and after work, so there’s no chance of discrimination. But why should I have to dress up just to be accepted on the bus? Why should I have to feel like any less of a human being because of my job? 

I often find the bus service and schedules totally confusing. One night after band practice, there were two buses parked at the Tennerife bus stop, with signs saying, "West End Express 199". I always thought "Express" meant that there were no stops between point A and point B. So as I was trying to decipher the poorly written timetable, the driver of one of the buses asked, “Are you here to catch the bus?” What I wanted to say was something sarcastic about how I just enjoy hanging around bus stops late at night reading timetables with no intention of catching the bus. Of course, what I really said was, “Yes. Do you actually go to the city?”, which was met with an annoyed “Yeah!” in a very “isn’t it obvious?” kind of way. It certainly was NOT obvious. To me, the timetable read something like this: 
Buses leaving from this stop travel Express to West End except where (a) indicates Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, in which case it travels inbound via City between 9am and 1pm, and then from 4:30pm until 9:57pm via Legume Road and Lutwyche Avenue. Where (b) represents Halloween, Easter and Arbour Day, buses travel outbound via Sorpez Drive and continue to run Express from 7:39am until 2:43pm every 46 minutes.

One night I was trying to get to Paddington. One bus didn't stop when I hailed it. A different bus pulled up. The driver said to me (and to everyone at every stop along the way), "The 385 bus you’re waiting for is cancelled. We don’t know where the driver is or what happened. Come with me to Bardon, then you can link with a 375 from there".  Someone at every stop asked, “Do you go to the city?”. And the driver, rolling his eyes and starting to lose his cool, replied, “No I don’t… But come with me to Bardon and you can link with a 375 to the city from there.” Most people just shook their heads and walked back to the bus stop seat, where they would’ve waited at least another hour for the next bus.  But I was happy to go along for the ride so I’d have a story to tell. As for the comment of "We don't know where the driver is or what happened". Well I guess that earlier bus that didn't stop for me when I hailed it must've taken the driver prisoner and driven off with him. 

Sometimes, the bus service is temporarily cancelled when there are major events on, which completely inconveniences people like me. Like the many times I’ve walked out of my workplace on a Saturday or Sunday into streets of chaos: “The streets are packed with people, Police, traffic at a stand-still, and fire trucks. Roads to my two bus stops are closed off. A house fire on Caxton St plus a big Rugby Union game at Suncorp Stadium. So now I have to get a train from Roma Street Station to Keperra, and then a taxi from there, instead of one prepaid bus trip straight home.”

As for those “GO Cards”… At 5am, the GO Card machine often has problems. No matter who the driver is, the usual routine on that 5am bus is: I swipe my card across the machine on the left. It says “Error”. I try swiping the card across the machine on the right. It says “Error”. The driver takes the card, rubs it on his shirt. The machine still has an error message on it, or sometimes an “Out of Service” or "Please Wait". Then he’ll tinker with the buttons a bit. “How about now?” Still an error message. He’ll press a few more buttons. “Now?” Still nothing. Sometimes he’ll open the machine up and fiddle with the inner workings of it. All this is usually pointless. If I’m lucky, he’ll say, “Don’t worry about it”, and I get a free ride. But most times, the driver manages to fix it.  
Strangely, I'm one of the only people who uses a GO Card on the early morning bus. Most other people have a bottomless pocket of change, which they pour out onto the driver's counter each day.

In my next blog post, I’ll talk about some of the crazy drivers I’ve encountered and their own personal rules - especially when it comes to “hailing etiquette”.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Driving Conditions

One of my biggest regrets in life was not learning to drive when I was still in high school. I was so comfortable with the idea of using public transport, not having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on petrol and maintenance of a car, and not having to deal with idiots on the road. The stupid things people do on the road is baffling. The road rules are complicated enough without having to be prepared for others who don't follow them properly.

I've always had a fear of driving. Ever since my mother, my brother Todd and I were in a car accident when we were really young. A crazy motorcyclist had somehow managed to run my Mum off the road. I can't remember if we crashed into the bike, another car, or the rocky cliff next to the road. All I remember is my Mum bleeding from the smashed windscreen, a policeman peering through the broken back seat windows asking if we were ok, and me replying, "Yep", as I brushed some glass off my leg. I guess I was only about four or five at the time.

Heaps of kids at school had saved up enough money from their retail or fast food jobs and bought a second hand car. Quite a few others were being given new cars as birthday presents. I had the opportunity to use my Mum's car. A red Datsun 1200, which she'd bought new in 1972. It was still in perfect condition too. 

But, foolishly, I didn't feel up to it. I just didn't want to drive. I was too scared to. My parents never forced us into doing anything we weren't comfortable doing. My Mum always blamed herself for my lack of confidence. She always said, "If only I'd pushed you into being more assertive". I always wished she wouldn't blame herself. A couple of years later, my extroverted brother Todd learnt to drive without a problem, and got the car.

I was always just happy to catch buses everywhere. It was easier. Less stressful. I'd catch buses to my various work experience places, to my after school fine art course, to college, to parties. Buses took me there. I didn't need a car. Even when I started playing in bands, I always lived with someone in the band. Going to rehearsals and gigs was as easy as loading up their car and going together. It wasn't even an issue. 

In the last five or six years, travelling has become more difficult. I moved into a place with someone who also didn't drive, and then I met and eventually married my wife, who doesn't drive either. Suddenly I was in a position where friends, parents and band mates were having to drive from the other side of town to fetch me and my musical equipment. During this time, I was only earning enough money to get by. I couldn't afford a car or driving lessons.

And Brisbane's public transport system started really slacking off. Buses were showing up extremely late, or not showing up at all. Sometimes they'd drive right past and not let you on. Other times, they'd have the number "000" on their scrolling counters at the front and back of the bus. And as they passed the stop and drove away, the "000" at the back would scroll into the bus number you were waiting for!

During my work in retail over the last five years, I've caught all sorts of buses at many strange hours. Early in the morning, late at night, middle of the day. In my next blog post, I'm going to talk about some of the bizarre experiences I've had with Brisbane's buses. The drivers; The rules that seem to be made up on the spot, depending on the driver at the time; The passengers; And the strange things that happen in the wee hours of the morning. I've shared many of these experiences as status updates on my Facebook page. And they've become quite a popular, comical read for many of my friends and followers.

Until then though, let me just say that my wife Jen has been taking driving lessons. We have saved up enough money to purchase a car that's small enough to zip around in, but roomy enough to fit all my equipment. I am quite far behind Jen with the driving. But at any spare moment I've had, I've been reading the book of rules and things I need to know for the learner's written test. I feel that once we actually have a car in our possession, and Jen is driving it around, I will be inspired to get behind the wheel of it too. But until then, I need to build up the courage to take the test, and then start the lessons.

At 32, I feel like one of the oldest people without a driver's license. People have assured me that I'm not, which is nice to know.  I was also made aware of people from Melbourne in their 30s who have also never learned (or needed) to drive due to their fantastic public transport system down there! All the trams and such.

Stay tuned for my crazy stories of Brisbane's buses, including the most bizarre one of all - The 5am bus!