Sunday, August 9, 2015

Forced Busing

There is a critical personnel shortage where I work. Hence the paucity of posts. Twelve-hour days spent behind the wheel are not conductive to creativity.

Only those of us too old or too far down the road of long-term unemployment remain; the younger and more employable of us having taken advantage of the rebounding economy and ditched the high-stress squalor of public transportation for greener pastures.

There is a dream-like quality to logging nearly three-hundred miles in urban traffic. Details and individual stops blur and become part of a larger, impressionistic canvas of repeated motions with no specific time or place.

Only the next address on your computerized manifest exists.

Then come the jarring intrusions of reality.

Dispatch, equally-stressed by a shortage of operators, is flooded with angry calls. Responding to outraged patrons, they insert themselves in your manifest and alter your course.

On a good day, this presents an opportunity to play hero as you swoop down out of the sky like the proud bus-eagle you are and rescue a rider from the social embarrassment of tardiness.

On a bad day, this saddles you with still-more stops you can't possibly perform in a timely manner without breaching the time-space continuum or altering the laws of physics. (Like any other bus driver-slash-physicist, I regularly search for wormholes.)

It is a frustrating little drama which finds the aggrieved customer playing the squeaky wheel and you an insufficient dollop of grease. This is likely the reason I am unusually fond of individually packaged moist towelettes.

Then the noisy thrum of the diesel engine and the mechanical whir of the transmission as it slogs through its gears yet again distances you from the evolving crises coming over the radio and the incessant stream of road construction.

You are once again a single, anonymous cell in the vast bloodstream of humanity. You set about delivering your passenger to their desired destination, not unlike the bit of oxygen headed to a muscle which ensures its continued function.

There is a brief sense of purpose.

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