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The Wheels Go Round (Bus Change)
In the words of my husband who drove an urban bus for 25 years.
One Cold Night
It was a blustery cold day in November and I was just ending of my run. I was supposed to be done at 5 and I was just finishing up my last trip in town when the call came over the system for a good bus that was needed for a bus change. I didn't even think about it. I picked up the hand set and called in giving my payroll number and bus number. No hassle! In a few minutes I was given the bus change and headed for South Side. I got over there and saw my bus sitting with the rear engine compartment open. I pulled up in front of that bus and watched as the other driver took over and his passengers got off the broken down bus and onto my nice warm one. The driver told me that maintenance should be on the way.
I spotted a small café where I could get some coffee. I had my coffee and about an hour later the maintenance boys came. They did their best but there was no starting that bus. So I was left there with a broken bus and told that they would call the hook for me and to stay with my bus. Well, now I was hungry because I had missed dinner and it was coming up onto 7 pm. Again I went across the street to the cafe where I got something to eat. I sat near the window at the diner so that I could see the tow when it arrived while had my supper. I got to talking with the owner and watched some TV on his little portable that he kept for his own entertainment on slow nights. It was almost 11 o’clock when I realized that no tow truck had ever appeared.
The owner was closing up so I went back across the street with my last cup of coffee in my hand and called dispatch. They assured me that the tow truck would be coming but that I was the last pick up on their schedule. I told dispatch to have the hook driver knock on the window that I would be stretched out on the back seat of the bus. So there I was wrapped up in my jacket on the back seat of the bus.
The next thing I knew the sun was shining directly into my eyes from the front of the bus and I was freezing. I got up went to the front of the bus and called dispatch. Their response, “Hook, what hook? We don’t have any buses out there waiting for a hook. When did you call it in?” Oh man, now these fools are acting like I wasn't even out here. After a long explanation of what had occurred the night before they finally sent a hook to get me back to the garage.
So here I am, dressed in the same uniform I wore yesterday, with a whole day’s growth of beard walking into the garage with yesterday's papers when I hear, “Where have you been? You sharked 2 hours ago?” My response, “What do you mean I sharked? I've been out all night on your broken down bus waiting for the hook.” Back and forth I went with this morning’s dispatcher. He hadn’t been told about the broken down bus nor that I had still been out there. At the end of the confused argument, the fool wanted to know if I would drive the second half of my run. I told him no way because I had been out over 24 hours and was going home to bed. That little mistake cost the Authority over 16 hours of overtime. That’s another story--but remember when you are on the clock, your pencil is your best friend in counting overtime.
© 2011 Laura L Scotty