Saturday, November 29, 2008

On becoming a Bus Driver

It was fate really. I have a photo somewhere of me at 5 years old, in a bus driver's hat and carrying a toy ticket machine. My father worked for South Wales Transport for a while and that should have given me a clue. Still, it all happened almost by accident.
I was working on a farm just outside Neath, that's a small town in Wales. I had a young family at the time and we lived on a cottage that went with the job. The Owner of the land, rich guy from London, sold the land for housing development. So we were going to lose my job and our home. I went to the local housing authority for help. They said that to be housed in the town I would have to work there. The bus company was hiring at the time so I went to work for SWT. Just as a stop gap, just until I could get something better. Well, that was 1971 and I've been driving buses ever since.
These days I drive in America. Los Angeles County to be precise. I'm qualified to drive on both sides of the street. How I got here is a story in itself. I'll tell it one of these days.
Still, I've found out quite a lot along the way. I learned that this job can provide a good living and a number of comforts as well. I learned that with this skill I can get a job anywhere. As long as I can communicate I never need to be unemployed. In fact if the bus company fired me today I'd be driving for someone else within a week.
I've also learned that bus drivers are the same all over the world. The same conversations are heard amongst drivers in Wales, England, France and America. Only the accent and language change but we all have the same gripes and laugh at the same things.
I learned that people are the same too. I never heard a flat broke man or woman who needed a ride to some place ever say anything different no matter where they were from or what language they used. I've met the high and low and I've often preferred the company of the homeless to the rich man.
Ah, but the towns and cities. They are different. As unique as the individual man or woman. Driving a bus I've got to know cities from a worm's eye view and quite a view it is.
So here it is, my first post on my blog all about life on the buses.

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Los Angeles, California, United States