The Bloke Who Drives The Bus

August 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Short Story | 2 Comments
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Pic by Steffe

G’day.

I’m a bloke.

I drive a bus.

THE bus.

The bus people get hit by when they’re least prepared for it.

In layperson’s terms, you could say I’m the bloke who drives the bus.

Except that sometimes I drive a truck.

I don’t mind; it makes for variety and the results are generally the same.

It’s weird that most people fear buses more than trucks. I keep stats for my own interest; it’s currently a 70/30 split in favour of buses.

I don’t get it. Compared to rigs, I reckon buses are pretty tame. Except the ones in Africa with 90 people on the roof.

On a muddy mountain track you can really get up some momentum, though the brakes and shockers are usually shot, which ruins your aim.

When I worked Gabon in my early years, I had to sideswipe more than one target and the collateral damage was not pleasant.

I’ve done a bit of research on my craft.

Did you know that ‘omnibus’ means ‘for everyone’ in Latin? Common English usage shortened it to ‘bus’. In Italian, there are eleven names for buses of every kind. I sh*t you not: autoalveare, autobus, autosnodato, autotreno, belvedere, carro alpino, char-a-banc, corriera, filovia, pullman and torpedone.

What is it with these people? I prefer ‘omnibus’ because for me, everyone is a potential mark.

Benz built the world’s first omnibus in 1895. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft produced a truck the following year. Maybe that’s how buses got the jump in urban mythology. As you can imagine, they were pretty thin on the ground at first. Helmut, my great-great-great-grandfather, was a champion driving bloke.

How he managed to orchestrate a pile up with the only other two commercial vehicles in Cannstatt is anybody’s guess. That he caused so much carnage with only four horsepower is even more impressive.

I guess it’s in our blood.

For me, it always starts as a tingle in my right thigh – deep down where I can never scratch. I can be driving the same route I’ve been on for months and then suddenly, I know I simply have to nail that Finance Director who’s exiting the Melbourne Club.

Uncle Roy gets a nervous tic in his left eye; brother Norman wets his pants and cousin Enid … well, let’s just say she really looks forward to getting her ‘message’.

Whatever the medium, we all know when it’s time. And thanks to the amazing safety features of today’s vehicles, we invariably live to tell the tale. You know when the newsreaders say: ‘the driver escaped serious injury’ or ‘the driver walked away unhurt’? Well, that’s us.

When it’s showtime, surprise is everything. As pedestrians, we’ve all had close shaves with traffic. Driving blokes play this to the max. The best outfits run vehicles so quiet you can get onto your targets before they know what’s hit them.

The Kenworth T800 Liquefied Natural Gas rig is quieter than any diesel on the road and produces 60% less nitrous oxide to boot. Raley’s Supermarkets of Sacramento runs a fleet of these, providing an excellent training platform for younger blokes.

But even your standard Mack can benefit from accessorising. Take the Goodyear Eagle LS. With curved pitch boundaries, triple tread block geometry and wide circumferential channels, it’s the king of stealth.

As you can probably tell, I love technology. Every now and then I get the urge to be an owner-driver.

More than anything, I’d like to run road trains out of Alice Springs. No witnesses, plenty of power and oodles of room to maneouvre. But with my record, I’d never get the permits.

I’ve been a driving bloke for 40 years now, but it wasn’t always the case.

I first felt the call on my Schwinn tricycle at kindergarten. When I got sent home for piloting Virginia Folvig onto a wooden peg (a’ la ‘Midnight Express’), my parents bought me a pedal car. I was horrified at what I’d done and resolved to take public transport thereafter.

This was fine until high school. For two years straight, bullies held me on the bus beyond my stop.

Then along came Stan.

No other driver had ever heeded my cries, let alone interceded. For weeks he was my guardian, until the boys got even.

They hijacked him one dark winter afternoon.

Their frozen oranges crazed his windows and startled him into a violent skid, which ended in the foundations of the school’s new swimming pool.

The boys successfully denied everything.

I have their names, though. My family has promised to alert me if any come up in the course of our business.

We’re all over the world now, my family. We love being instruments of Fate.

It’s so empowering; we never take a sickie. This can be risky where vehicles are publicly owned and malingering is a way of life.

Fortunately, economic rationalism is privatising most fleets. It’s perfect – increased turnover promotes anonymity, while low morale, reduced maintenance and deregulation make it easy to shift the blame.

To be on the safe side, we generally change employers every few hits. People are so superstitious.

The most interesting aspect of my work is the aftermath.

Though death by heavy vehicle is clearly a fact of life (Google provides over 13,000 returns for the phrase: ‘hit by a bus’), few firms have a progression and succession plan hardy enough to handle the spontaneous loss of key employees.

Of course, most organisations are only really scared of losing senior staff.

I find this endlessly amusing, since it’s generally the loss of ‘little people’ that causes the greatest havoc.

I once despatched a popular tea lady at a small factory. It took management two months to replace her, during which time the union initiated disputes on breaks, demarcation and the use of contractors.

Scalds and fights over biscuits blew the WorkCover premium out by 18% the following year, torpedoing a major export deal.

The job went to a competitor and the factory has been in decline ever since.

By contrast, I recently nailed the $250K-plus-benefits Strategic Director (Asia Pacific) of an insurance juggernaut.

No one even noticed until he missed his Hamilton Island ‘Resource Leveraging’ conference.

The irony of my role is that most people affirm their own deaths.

You know how those New Age types warn: ‘don’t give that thought energy’? Well, they’re right. So many times I’ve heard people say: ‘he only mentioned getting hit by a bus the other day’.

The universe is a ruthlessly efficient machine and I’m proud to be one of its drivers.

See you on the road.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

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2 Comments »

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  1. WOW! You can occupy more than one body at the same time? I thought only the best of Professional Actors could do that? That’s gotta be a rare gift? :- )

    Bluddy awesome mate! :- )

    Veritas vos liberabit! What a different world it would be ey? :- )

    Cheers

    Stephen G

    • Hi Stephen! How kind of you to make the time/space jump to visit me here! 🙂 My other body is at the cleaners, and I realised yesterday that fiction is my true body of work.

      Once all my short pieces are up, I shall start reworking my 46 chapter novel LIVE on yet another blog. It’s TIME! Best regards and thanks for being an early adopter! P. 🙂


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