Every morning, as I get on to the bus that takes me uphill, I hope my favorite driver is on duty. Most bus drivers that I have encountered are cheerful, polite people and they usually have a smile for their passengers. My regular driver is a roly-poly, extraordinarily cheerful, young white guy. He’ll grumble good naturedly if I give him a £20 note for a £1.70 ticket, but he knows that the change he gives me, will be returned faithfully over the next few days.
My bus driver doesn’t get bullied by raucous teenagers on their way to school or the local college. One morning, a bunch of girls were teaching a young boy to spell a ‘bad’ word. The rest of the passengers kept a straight face and pretended not to hear. The school girls were having a merry time when the driver looked into his mirror and said loudly, “Oi, girls! Stop teaching that young man those words. He doesn’t understand it. You’re bothering other passengers!” . Just like that. And the girls shut up.
That was not an isolated incident. He’s asked passengers to pipe down and keep the peace. Two days earlier, a young woman, in her early 20s, with a child in a pram sat talking rather loudly to another girl who was with her. The child was being fed peppermints , just like ‘Polo’s’. One lick and the mint was on the floor. Kids get bored easily. Two, three mints later, the driver asked the mother to lower her volume and not to litter. She grumbled, but picked up the fallen mints.
Not many drivers would have risked telling off passengers. People here can be unpredictable. A teenager can carry a knife or beat you to a pulp if you don’t mind your own business. My fearless driver couldn’t care less or maybe he’s just supremely confident. Maybe he believes in what is right and does it no matter what the consequences.
I pass the same driver sometimes on my way back home when I walk instead of taking the bus. He gives me a little wave whenever he sees me, whether he’s on the other side of the road, or powering the bus up the hill.
I wish there were more people around like him. Life would be so much… pleasanter.