People often ask me, "Why are so many bus drivers so dang grumpy?"
There are two answers to that question.
1. Same thing that really makes you mad, being blamed for doing the wrong things when you are doing the right thing.
2. Endless repetition of 1. A bus drivers job is about endless repetition. Go, STOP! Go, STOP, Turn STOP! Turn STOP! Given enough time repetition of WaMGAD rule 1 above can turn bright and chipper drivers into grumpy zombies.
Here is my example
- The Safety Nazi’s I December 28th 2015
- Run: Bus 71, or as I call it the big Horse Shoe.
- Location: SE Lincoln and 58th Street East Bound
- Conditions: Dark, Cold, Dry
What the above picture doesn’t show is that from here you are looking down hill. This photo, because it was taken on the hill does not allow you to see how steep it is, but it’s moderately steep and the lanes are narrow. Also add to this a strange envelope shaped round about and you have a tight squeeze.
So I’m climbing this hill in my 2000 bus, ahead of me is a car in the lead slowly pulling away. Next is a cyclist doing well at just under 20 MPH climbing the hill. Then comes my bus, all three of us would be heading right at you in the photo above.
A pedestrian on the sidewalk of the road Is passed by the car, car is going about 25 MPH, no reaction. Then the cyclist passes just as the pedestrian hits the corner in the image above, still no reaction. Now comes my bus, Because I’m hanging back not crowding the cyclist my bus is in first gear working hard to move my ten ton bus up the hill. Now! there is a reaction.
This pedestrian hears my loud turbo diesel engine working hard because it’s in first gear to help climb the hill. Using his vast knowledge of diesel engines he makes the equation in his head Loud = Fast and figures “This bus is speeding.” He starts waving his hands signaling me so slow down.
I’m still pacing a bicycle that just passed him!
I’m crawling up a hill!
Oh and also i’m about to squeeze my 40’ bus through this tight intersection, around this roundabout, in the dark, do you think there is any chance of me speeding?
I think, “Hey this guy want’s me to pick him up” because he’s waving at my bus. So I start to slow down. Sure It’s not a stop but it’s cold outside and I don’t leave people in the cold. So I slow and I then see his hand signal, and hear him yelling his self righteous “Slow down asshole!” I keep rolling.
I fight my urge to give a little hand signal of my own.
Max speed 21 MPH.
Oh the humanity!
Oh the Risk!
How careless of me to climb a hill at 20 MPH BEHIND A CYCLIST DOING THE SAME SPEED!
How dangerous of me to travel at 5 MPH under the speed limit.
Think of the children… Think of the CHILDREN!!!
I doubt this Safety Nazi is telling the story this way. To him he is a hero who stopped a bus from killing millions. Think of how much death there would be without these self appointed Safety Experts patrol our streets.
Thank you Safety Nazi. You may have just saved absolutely no one.
It was close there, but you were the difference between no accidents and risk and no accidents or risk.
Stuff like this repeated enough times and pooled with other repetitive accusations grind drives will to be nice like a transit stone on an iPhone. I've seen it done, I've seen drivers come in like comets shooting through the sky, getting compliments left and right, everything is great "Bus driving is easy!" they pop off when other drivers mention their hardships.
Flash forward 3 years.
You walk into the garage at the end of shift and they are sitting there with that thousand yard stare. (Thousand meter if you are from anyplace else) They look like the world has kicked them in the ass. Gone is the bright spark, gone is the bubbly personality, not a chipper to be seen. Why? because they have been ground down.
Given enough time even the best drivers can be crushed. The example above is not always the cause of the burn out but it and it's many many cousins are the foundation of all burnouts
Please be nice to your drivers and operators. They are not angels but a kind word goes a long way.
Please! before you accuse them of anything, make sure you have all the information. Or better yet, just take it easy and abide. Know that any driver who is doing something wrong will get busted for it given time and hey if you are so dang good at driving a bus from twelve feet (About 3 Meters) away on the outside of the bus, Tri-met is hiring, they would love to have a steely eyed bus driver like you who can know so much without even being behind the wh... wait that's the negative sneaking in. See! It can sneak up on any bus driver given time.
Love you all.
Have a great day
A great new years
and most of all Roll Easy.