Stranger things happen on the Buses
We're back "On the Buses"
An old much loved TV program
When I was a child there was a much loved comedy program on TV called "On the Buses" that we used to gather round the TV at night to watch, as I think about these hubs that I've written dealing with driving a bus I can't help but think I'm writing a script for that show! Some of the things that happen could be straight from the scriptwriters pen!
Forty year may have passed since the last episode but it's just like I'm writing the script as I sit and think here of some of the things that have happened.
On the Buses
"Nothing's as old as my Dad!"
I bet every five year old thinks his or her dad is the absolute most awesome dude in the universe right? Or they should. They often think they're the oldest thing in existence! (apart from Gamps that is!).
We've still got one of our oldest buses, we keep it as a reserve for when things go wrong and we just haven't got a spare, she's got no air conditioning but lots of windows and when moving is quite cool inside and she's a sprightly forty two years old!!
Last winter I had the joy that my bus had broken down and I had to take old '87 out (her fleet number). Actually she has no aircon but the heater is wonderful!
Some of the kids I was picking up were bing a bit grumpy with their Mums at the time so one kid that was being grouchy I just turned and said "Just think, a special Vintage trip just for you!" The kid's eyes lit up at the thought he was getting a special bus just for him "This bus is a vintage one, in fact it's so old it's older than your Dad!!" Mum just about fell over laughing but the kid felt really special and the rest of the trip the grouch stopped!
Olden but Golden
Passengers aren't the only thing that makes this job special, (though they are a major part of it) another thing is the vehicles themselves, I don't care what you say vehicles may be a hunk of metal and a means of getting from A to B for most of you but for me they each have the little things that happen that makes it feel as if they're talking to me.
A favorite with the older buses was because of their age things used to wear down that bit quicker, they needed that little more TLC like servicing and such. They'd be great for the first week after the service but after about a week you start to get misfiring, not really noticing it until you get to a clear stretch of road and put the accelerator down, then it's like a machine gun going off!
Most countries around the world have their version of SWAT teams for the Police, we don't often see them in NZ but our boys are called the "Armed Offenders Squad" or AOS for short. One time I remember going down the street with the bus backfiring so I called up Ops to report the situation, here's how the conversation went.
"Yeah, go ahead"
"I think we need to get this Bus in for a service!"
"We can't yet, she's not due for one"
"But I think we need to do it NOW!"
"Why? What's broken"
"She just backfired and the AOS just surrounded me!!!" Needless to say within half an hour she was off the road!
Three years driving buses with around sixty hours a week means you've done quite a few things with them but for me some of the classic moments have been the breakdowns. One classic was working one of the routes when I got to my terminus I noticed the power steering had packed up. I've driven trucks without power steering before so I called Ops and told them the situation. I told them I'd be able to nurse the bus back to the depo where we can swap her out.
Setting off everything was going well until I looked down at my air pressure guages half way home and something haf fractured the air pipes and she was dumping all the air in the system.
Heavy vehicles all have air operated brakes, and those brakes have a safety feature in all of them that once the air pressure drops below a certain level a bolt locks the brakes on and won't release until the air pressure gets back above the required minimum, my brakes were about to lock on so I pulled over and told them I wasn't moving.
They sent me a replacement and a towtruck came to take the other bus away. Everything was fine and dandy I thought until the supervisor told me to ask the other supervisor (who'd brought my repalcement bus out) what had happened next.
Fearing I was in trouble I asked and he started laughing, it took a while for him to stop but then he told me that just as the tow truck haf connected to the bus a little old lady had come running down the street "Can I catch this bus now?" she tried to open the door.
"No Lady, sorry"
"But I need to get to town!"
"Wait for the next bus, it'll be here in a few minutes"
"I'm not waiting for another bus, I'll take this one"
"No you won't" he replied but she wasn't done.
"WHY NOT?" she was pretty indignant
"LADY, IT'S ATTACHED TO A BLOODY TOW TRUCK!!"
What more can you say!
Onwards and upwards
What Dad used to say.
"We don't have much money, but we do see life"
For the future
Nothing ever stands still for long, it's the same in our industry and the same for our company. We're in the middle of Summer now and the kids are out of school, most folks have taken the opportunity that the summer break gives to take off for a few weeks and have a holiday, but that's coming to an end and in about two or three weeks everything will be back to what was normal.
For us that's meant that a fewnew routes have been introduced and there's going to be new faces on the buses, it also means a lot more things that can be fun will be out there waiting for me to 'discover' after all, as my Dad used to say
"Variety is the spice of life"
Until next time.