Today (well a few days ago by the time you’re reading this) I had probably the nicest bus driver I’ve ever encountered. Odd way to start a post you might think, but for me finding nice customer service, or just meeting friendly people can make or break your day. There’s nothing more disheartening than getting a service from Mr or Mrs Misery, frown set in, grunt at the ready.
I’m sure nobody enjoys catching the bus, well unless your 5 years old maybe. My niece loves it, makes her feel grown up I think, and seems like you’re going on an adventure, somewhere you can’t reach by car!
But still I persevere with catching the bus, it’s often easier and less stressful than parking, around here anyway. Norwich is growing and stretching but they don’t seem to realise the more exciting and diverse a city becomes, the more people are going to visit, so more cars. Yes there’s park and ride, but isn’t that a faff?! You’re still driving and parking, just paying for the privilege of getting a bus for the last couple of miles. It makes the city less congested, I know! But I’d rather just get the bus for the whole of my journey, if I’m not going to drive.
So I persevere with the bus, and boy do I meet some characters! Drivers and passengers. It’s actually quite nice having a chat with a stranger on the bus, sometimes. You also make ‘bus acquaintances’, a nod of the head to say hi, here we meet again.
Finding a jolly bus driver though, can be quite the challenge!
I’ve had a couple, the odd one that says hi as you board. Todays was the exception though. Today I had a friendly bus driver experience. I knew from the start he was going to be a good’en. I could tell by his face as he pulled up looking all friendly and pointing me towards the non-grass area where he was going to pull up allowing me an easy board. Unlike some that I swear park in the most awkward places, hoping it will deter me. It doesn’t.
Most buses these days are accessible. By accessible I mean there is a pull out ramp and just enough room for me to squeeze into my space, as long as there aren’t too many buggys, but I’ll come to that later! By squeeze I do often mean literally squeeze, knocking into other passengers knees on the seats in front. I then have to reverse park my wheels, dodging a metal post, with all eyes glaring. I’ve been known to get a round of applause, I’m not sure if this is good. Many times have I been told I ‘drive that thing better than I do my car’, I smile pleasantly.
For some reason (health and safely, even though my chair isn’t fixed down so it’s not that safe is it?!) I have to park facing the rest of the bus, my admiring audience. This is great for a bit of people watching, which you must admit we all love to do. But can get a little uncomfortable when you realise you’ve been staring at somebody and eye contact is made!
So today jolly bus driver said good morning as I got on, didn’t huff when he saw I needed the ramp, asked where I would be departing, and waited for me to park in my spot before he pulled off. No, none of this should be a call for applause or deserve a bus driver etiquette medal, but it does. This is a rarity. So often am I made to feel a bus inconvenience, by the driver and other passengers. A driver that looks away hoping it’s not his bus I’m waiting to board, hoping he doesn’t need to leave his comfy seat to lower the ramp. Shutting the door in my face saying ‘there’s no space’ when I can plainly see there is….. yes this has actually happened. Passengers that may be asked to move their luggage, passengers with a 4 year old in the biggest unnecessary pushchair you have ever seen, that when asked to collapse huff and tut and struggle with the monstrosity. Can someone tell me what’s wrong with those collapsible buggys these days? You know the ones that just disappear to nothing with the flick of a foot?!
Today was a good day. There were no buggys, no luggage, in fact the bus was almost empty. Also I had Mr Jolly Driver who gave the bus a pleasant atmosphere. Saying ‘hello’ ‘good morning’ ‘good day’ to all that boarded. A smile in place. Bus being chased down the road by a latecomer we pulled over to let him board, panting, thanking and trying to pay, he didn’t feel rushed. We were with him, we felt his stress, his happiness. We were the happy bus!
This particular bus journey was to Norwich, where I would see the encouraging, enriching, British biopic Breathe. I must confess I didn’t know much about the life of Robin Cavendish before today. I wont ruin it for you (you can google if you like!), but how he lived his life has impacted mine more than I realised.
Also any film with the line ‘I know a rather jolly pub down the road’ has got me gripped from the start!
I learned something today.
Anything is possible. Even a friendly bus driver!