Monday, March 16, 2009

Buckle up!

In the morning (most mornings), I have the Bus Driver From Hell (hereafter known as the BDFH). This guy is amazing. He'll leave people standing at the stop if they are not right on the bus at Broad and High. You can be running full-tilt right for the bus, waving cash in the air, and he'll go around other buses to leave you standing. And that's nothing, compared to his driving.

Bus drivers usually drive cautiously, as if they had precious cargo aboard. Not the BDFH. The BDFH drives the bus like it's an Indy car. It's amazing to see, I am sure, but really breathtaking from inside the bus. I estimate that he does about 35 in the 25 zones around my office. And if that's not enough, the route twists and turns through the neighborhood, but the BDFH just sees this as a challenge to make those curves without dropping below 30.

I have heard the BDFH even break into road rage tirade from behind the wheel. Some of these were even peppered with profanity.

My favorite BDFH episode came this morning. I got on the bus (I just made it) and before I had taken even two steps toward my seat he was pulling away from the curb. There were two buses ahead of us. Most drivers will honk a little "toot-toot" to make sure that the driver of the other bus knows they're getting passed, but not BDFH. He laid on his horn and if bus tires could squeal, I am sure he would have laid rubber. I was surprised not to hear Cruella de Ville's classic epithet "road hog" come out of his mouth. But, BDFH restrained himself. Evidently, he was trying to make sure he made the light, which he did, only to get stuck at the next one, whereupon we heard his stand-by, "Oh, come ON!" I looked in the rear view mirror of the bus and saw that the bus we passed was right behind us. As we waited for the light to change, I swear that the BDFH actually gunned his engine. As soon as the light changed, we were off. The brakes on our buses don't screech, but if they did, that's how we would have come to a halt in front of my bus friend at the next stop. She got on and he took off almost immediately, careening off down to the next turn.

As my bus friend managed to sit down on something resembling a seat, instead of the floor, we looked at each other and rolled our eyes. We always threaten to call him in, but neither of us ever has. As he pulled away from the next stop, he was stuck in the curb lane by a long line of cars. We could hear BDFH muttering to himself, "Oh, come on! Don't do this to me!" and sounds that my husband and I describe as "ruckin'-skruckin'". Finally, he got a big enough break and he swerved quickly into the lane, speeding off to the next stop.

As we approached my stop, I waited for the precise moment to pull the bell. And it is tricky. The stops are a little too close together so if I pull it too soon, he stops at the wrong stop, too late and he won't stop until the next stop, and there is always an audible sigh. I always wait to stand up to get out because I don't want to be thrown to the floor by the force of the stop.

I always say "Have a nice day!" to the BDFH as I disembark and today was no different. I keep hoping that, eventually, he'll start to become nicer, but I am beginning to think this hope may be a vain one. As I climbed down out of the coach I had to check the impulse to kiss the ground to thank God for allowing me to survive.

Honestly, where do they find these guys?

Photo: still from "Speed" - Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock

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