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On the road (in the Bus)
On the road
A few weeks ago I put a hub together about my job as a bus driver and why I like it as much as I do. It seems that folks really liked the hub so I've decided to follow up a bit with some of the stories that have happened 'on the road' if for no other reason than to put a 'smile on your dial'
Growing up Mum and Dad ran a small business as a coal merchant. Mum taking the orders but Dad delivering the coal to customers in all kind of weather. We had all kinds of customers, from the very wealthy to the poorest struggling to make the most of every penny. They all got the same level of service and that meant that they all came back placing more orders. Some were good folks and easy to get along with, some always complained and others were just grumpy, Dad always gave them the same respect and quality of service which used to frustrate me like crazy at times as it felt like 'cowtowing' to them, but now, after many a year I think I know what he was doing, It was amazing people skills! and I think it's a gift he taught me how to use!
I mean on any given day I'll have up to 250 folks come through the doors of my Bus and every one of them very different! When you get that many folks you can guarantee you're going to have a challenge!
Here to serve!
Age is no barrier to fun!
That's one of the first lessons I learned as a driver! Just because someone is in their nineties doesn't mean they don't have a great sense of humor!
Actually there's a couple of stories that fit this bill. When I first started driving the buses I had to learn about the 'Gold card' we have here for the over sixty fives, it allows them free travel on the buses in 'off peak' times (between 9am and 3pm) and it gets used a lot!
For us as a company it's also good news as the ticekts are paid by the government, but you'd be amazed at the lengths I've had to go to getting the older folks to use the card! Kiwi folks are very independant and hate to rely on others for things, even bus rides!
"But I've never used the bus before!" the comment usually comes, "And I'm a bit embarressed!"
"How long have you paid your taxes for?" is my polite reply
"And that's more than paid for a $2 fare don't you think?"
That's when it dawns on them that they're only using what they've been paying for all along and the embarressment goes as we get another regular customer!
One old fellow got on my bus with two canes and showed me his card, but as he did he said with a cheeky smile "I'm Only 42 really" then he turned to the half a dozen old ladies on the bus and literally shouted "IT'S YOU BUGGERS HAVE DONE THIS TO ME!!!" The ladies all knew him and just erupted with laughter! it took me three years to find out that he was actually 80 at the time!
Or the little old lady who with a walking frame who was struggling to get on the bus, I'd already lowered the bus so that it sat closer to the curb and was getting out of my seat saying "Let me give you a hand" when she shot me a look that could sink a Battleship and curtly replied "Young Man, I may be old" (then the smile broke out) "But I'm not totally decrepid!" and promptly threw the frame into the bus.
Later on that same trip when we got into the Transport center there were young teenagers on the platform, I was trying to get them to move so the passengers could get off when the lady with the walking frame got to the door and quietly said to me "Watch this" then turning to the doorwar shouted "Gangway". Threw herself and the frame out the door, bowled at least four of the kids over and tore up the platform as if she had a rocket strapped to her back with the bystanders saying "What the!!"
An old Yorkshire saying
'There's nowt as funny as folk!
'cept me and thee, and I'm not so sure about thee"
(translation "People are strange')
Ever driven in hight winds? What about a high sided vehicle in high winds?
As a truck driver I've done that on more than my fare share of occasions, and it isn't all that easy! The wind catches the side of the vehicle and next thing you know you're on the other side of the road praying nothing's coming round the bend too fast!
We've got a range of vehicles here in Hamilton. most are good old Diesels. Actually Diesel has made a bit of a comeback in recent years as a clean and environmentally friendly fuel! (Diesel vehicles can actually run on 100% biofuel! Petrol and LPG can't even get close to it!) mind you with the latest scandal with VW and the other car manufacturers (who are yet to be held accountable) that might all change!
Some of our Buses run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) with fuel tanks in the roof of the vehicle, don't worry, they're sealed pressure canisters, but they are heavy! Take a look at the bus above, it's got the fuel tank on the roof!
One Saturday I was in one of these buses doing a busy run when the winds were pretty vicious, I was going across a bridge in heavy traffic when I heard an almighty bang, I was convinced that a car had rammed the bus but when I checked I couldn't see any damage!
I called our operations center and told them what I knew, but one of the passengers said "I think it came off your roof!" he was actually the only one on the bus of the passengers (it was half full) that spoke English as most of the rest were elderly Chinese (they really know how to use the 'Gold card!) so I pulled off the bridge and got out to look.
"Oh F%^&K the bloody roof's missing!!!" (sorry folks but when you see that it's enough to make a preacher swear!Those rooves are heavy!
Straight away I got on to Operations and told them as I DID NOT WANT TO EXPLAIN THIS TO THE BOSS ON MONDAY!!!
"Finish the run and head back to the yard" was the instructions I got which I did in almost record time. When i got back the supervisor asked me what the bus had been like to drive (we'd lost about half a ton in weight off the roof and the Gas tanks were exposed)
"Great" I replied, "Better than normal, can we leave her that way?" what else could I say, the bus had handled better without the roof as there wasn't so much weight on the steering!
It turns out that the cover for the tanks was bolted on by eight bolts that had worked loose and when the wind got under it the bolts sheared creating the bang, liften the canopy clean off the buss, blew it across two lanes of traffic (it was pretty heavy traffic) without hitting anything and dumped it over the bridge where it dropped a hundred meters into a fast flowing river never to be seen again, we suspect it's now somewhere off the coast of Australia or South Africa!
A few days later we got a memo from the Boss that we derivers need to make sure that everything is in good order with the buses before heading out in the morning as a few wing mirrors had fallen off for no reason. As soon as I saw the memo I marched into the Ops room and put in a request for a set of step ladders, the conversation went something like this.
"I need a set of step ladders"
"What the hell do you need them for?"
"Because of the memo!" I replied
"What?" there was genuine confusion from the supervisor ( a different one to the Saturday incident!)
"The memo says we've got to make sure everything is OK on the buses"
"But why the step ladders?"
"Because on Saturday I lost the roof of the bus due to loose bolts, Can I have the step ladders so I can check them?"
At that point even the Boss who was in his office (yes, he gets in at around 6 am!) only stopped laughing long enough to tell me to, well lets say he told me to go away that but for the laughter could have been understood as being rude :-} I never did get those step ladders, but then again those CNG buses aren't used at the weekends anymore!
Which is the strangest?
Truth is stranger than fiction!
What about you?
Have you got any amusing stories dealing with transport?
Don't try this at home!
Actually this one only happened this week and it just goes to show that age is no reason not to get up to mischief!
One one of the runs this week I picked up an elderly gent in his seventies with a walking frame, the bus was pretty full but it wasn't a real problem until we got into the transport center where other passegners were waiting to board.
As soon as the bus stopped and I lowered the bus they all started to leave, just as he got to the door another regular passenger, a lady who I know is at least ninety seven (you get to know the regulars quite well) ran forward.
"Let me help you" she said and promptly grabbed the walking frame.
"I don't want any help" he was pretty strong in his reply!
"Well you're getting it!" she shot back and basically manhandled him off the bus! There were young folks around but they were too stunned to react in time! We eventually got everyone off who was getting off and as the elderly lady was getting on I had to have a little word with her as not everyone appreciates help.
"D" I said "he didn't want help, He's pretty independant that way!"
"I know" She replied with a cheeky smile :but it was fun!"
I mean I hope I have as much zest for life as some of these 'oldies' do when I get their ages!
Well that's all for now folks, and i hope you enjoyed the stories, by the way they're all true! All you've got to do to get a story sometime is just watch people for a little while and as they say "Truth is stranger than fiction"