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: 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!

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