On the bus
When I finally past my test for safety reasons, I could tell my family that I had become a bus driver, my test was a mixture of disapproval and deep compassion. I had been a truck driver a few years ago. But driving these two machines are totally different things.
"Yes, good for you," they said, "and we are very sorry as you liked your old job so much. But in your case this it might be a good option in this economy, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do."
What was I expecting, a congratulatory handshake or a roaring crowd? After all, in just two short weeks, I had learned the difference between a cement truck and a city bus, and all the electronics and tickets that come with it. Learning how to deal with passengers is an easy job for me as I have a wide range of experience.
But how could I blame others for their ignorance towards bus drivers when I, too, had once basked in the luxury of a cozy office inside a ship? When I had to travel to or from the ship I needed sometimes to take the bus. And that has inspired me to get my licence as I might get an other job in the future. But due to my health I had to make this choice a lot earlier than I had planned.
"Driving a bus is a huge responsibility," said one driver, my first day on the job.
"We are carrying precious cargo," said another.
But the professionalism demonstrated by the Central Station of Groningen as you have to drive your bus through a very narrow alleyway. I can tell you that this is a real challenge for new bus drivers as it goes beyond simple straight forward driving. Keep your head cool and soon it will get easier. I think it is scarey driving a brand new bus of april this year. They actually trust you that you will take care.
But being a good driver means a hell lot more.When a kid leaves a lunchbox on the bus, if they can, they will return it. Otherwise it will be handed in at lost and found at the main terminal. If they spot a dangerous situation, they will warn the other drivers and their traffic controllers. But it goes even further.
"Every year, I worry that my son's bus driver won't be back the next year," one parent told me. "We count on him!" Unless someone could actually replace him. It is hard for the mentally disabled kids but things are changing and also bus drivers go on pension one day.
Some student walk a few extra blocks just to ride with her favorite driver. That is how different your public reacts.
So, from a rookie's perspective, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of a truly professional team. From a dad's perspective, thank you for taking such good care of our young passengers that travel on their own. And from the perspective of a unemployed homeowner, thank you for your immeasurable contribution to the community to give me the chance to do this job.
A uniform will come next week, so one more week in private clothing and it is complete.
The Old Sailor,