A wise woman…

Donna seems to be a wise woman….not me 😊  My passenger Donna!

When I started this route, she used to always call me “Driver”. It felt kind of cool but also weird. On the day I introduced myself and we discovered we shared the same name, we also revealed the year we were born, so I know she was born in 1960.

I don’t know her, or her story, but the way she carries and presents herself makes me think of her as a wise woman.

Donna is always polite. She walks with a cheerful, confident, easy-going, purposeful step. She seems to be at ease with the woman she is and the world around her. I think of her as being authentic.

Donna dresses in greens and browns, purples and maroons. Her bag is a combination of all these colours and looks like a kaleidoscope of colour. She carries it slung over one shoulder and across her body. She has a slim frame so the bag (which could be called a holdall, as it must hold it all!) covers her whole side. She usually wears slip-on shoes with thick woollen tights or long boots. She is always in a layered skirt that floats around her calves. Her tops are layered, and the top layer is a long velvet maroon jacket that she wears open with a scarf that hangs down or is wrapped around her neck. With one hand she holds a keeper cup – tea or coffee must be her morning routine. She has auburn hair, threaded with grey, which she often wears loose. Her eyes are watery blue – like she has seen many tears. Tears of joy and tears of happiness. The effect is a cross between a hippie and a gypsy – a wandering soul.

Donna always has a warm welcome for me and always thanks me when she gets off the bus. Her laugh is infectious and genuine. It’s almost a cackle and makes me smile when I hear it. It makes me think she might be a good witch.

She hasn’t been on my bus for a few weeks, so I had assumed she wasn’t an essential worker. This week I have seen her twice – so maybe she is. She was my only passenger to hop on at 6am today.

ME – Good Morning Donna

Donna – Good morning. How are you this morning?

ME – I’m good. As good as I can be given what’s happening.

Donna – That’s the shot. We both woke up this morning. We’re LAUGHIN’ (and she cackled).

Wise Donna made me laugh and reminded me that it’s not that complicated to be wise. Wisdom comes when we can reach inside of ourselves, push our ego out of the way and be truly grateful. When we have true gratitude there is very little room for anything else… apart from laughter……and we always need to be laughin’ 😊

Essential worker…

It became official this week; I am an Essential worker and my job as a Bus Driver is essential. This contradicts how I feel about driving a bus as I don’t feel essential.  If my bus wasn’t there, passengers would find another way to get to work or another bus.  If I wasn’t driving there would be another driver to drive the bus.  Whilst what I offer may be essential, it doesn’t make me feel essential.  What feels essential is the work that I do with my Be Active Tribe (our on-line training group) and my Tai Chi ladies (also currently on-line).  For almost two decades being a P.T.  has filled up my heart and been my passion. After my online Be Active Tribe training and Tai Chi sessions I feel like I have made a difference, created impact and a positive change. I feel like I have been essential.

Yesterday was one of those rare moments when I realised that I am creating an impact and I can create a positive change as a Bus Driver.  Perhaps it is this strange world we live in and even though it is small, I can have an impact on someone’s day.  I have a young, female passenger.  (Young in my eyes! Maybe early 20’s!)  She has this jaunty walk, as if she is on springs, like she has all this energy inside her that is ready to burst at any moment. She is almost dancing.  I can imagine her kicking her heels to the side as she walks along. (This reminds me of you Joanne Link!)  She is a little shorter than me and it is hard to tell what her body is like as she wears a big puffer jacket, baggy pants and a beanie pulled down over her short dark hair.  Her hair spikes out from under her beanie – as if it is also packed full of vibe and energy.   Before she wore a mask, I could see her beautiful coffee coloured skin and lips that were quick to smile. Now I see eyes that dance when she smiles, which she did every time she got on the Bus. She has an accent that I just can’t recognise. I get the feeling she would be a fun, somewhat mischievous person to hang out with. Our passenger/driver relationship was sealed about a month ago. I had left the Bus Stop and was about 20 metres away, when she came running down the footpath towards me. I pulled over and opened the door – which I am not actually allowed to do. I made a quick decision and given  she was one of my regular passengers and is pretty much on the bus 4 to 5 days a week, I figured she would be late for work if I kept driving, so of course I pulled over.

From the first time she hopped on my bus she would always give me a bright and cheerful “Good Morning!”. She pretty much leaps off the bus using the rear door and always calls out something – “See you tomorrow” or “Have a great day” or “Thank you” AND gives me a wave. Without fail she makes me smile. Yesterday she was the only passenger to hop on at 6am. As I pulled into her regular Bus Stop, I pulled up and opened the back door. As I looked in the mirror, she was almost beside me, so I opened the front door. She stood beside me and was kind of shy when she said, “Today is my last day at this job and I won’t be on this bus anymore.”  My heart dropped and I said that I was sorry to hear that. She said I just wanted to say goodbye to you and thank you.  I said I will miss you. She looked at me and said, “You will?” I said of course I will. You are one of my favourite passengers. She looked at me with her dancing eyes and said “Really?”.  I said of course you are. She said that is so nice, thank you. She jumped off the bus and turned around and said to me “Take care, stay safe” and gave me a big wave. I was choked when I said to her “You take care and stay safe”. As I closed the door, I watched her walk away in her bouncy, energetic way and realised that she had been an essential part of my day, and I had been an essential part of hers.  That is the thing about being essential – it is about give and take.

For all those essential workers out there, that may not feel essential, think about what you are doing and remember what you are doing and why.

For all those out there who are interacting with essential workers please remember that they are feeling the same way you are. A kind word and a smile will go a long way.

Wakey, Wakey!

Have you ever fallen asleep on Public Transport? I am embarrassed to say that 20 years ago I fell asleep on a train. It was late at night and I had been out drinking. Plenty of good reasons, right?

During my Bus Driver Induction, I was with 6 different Bus Drivers. They all had stories to tell about passengers falling asleep on the bus, at night and mostly smelling of alcohol. I didn’t give it much thought as the Bus Drivers had been driving for years – so once a decade or so seemed feasible.

I am on an early shift – 5.38am to 9.38am Monday to Friday. My route takes me from Oakleigh Train Station to Boxhill via Monash, back to Monash, up to Boxhill again and back to Monash where the service terminates. At Monash I make sure I have no passengers on the bus, otherwise, they would end up going back to Box Hill or to the depot and I am Thoughtful, Considerate Bus Driver 😊

What a surprise then, that over the two months I have been doing this route I have had 2 “sleepers”!! At this rate, I am expecting another one any day now!

The first one was sitting up the back and her head had fallen forward – she was sound asleep. Of course, with social distancing, I didn’t want to get too close! I had to call out a few times to wake her. When she woke up, she just said “thanks” and got off… she wasn’t embarrassed.

The second one was sitting on the seat next to the back door. There’s a panel that separates the seat from the back door. She had her forehead resting on this divider – sound asleep. I knocked on the divider a few times to wake her up. Once again, when she woke up, she said “thanks” and got off. She didn’t seem embarrassed either…..there’s a pattern here!

Twenty-something years ago I just woke up. No one was around, no one woke me up. It got me thinking about how frequently this sleeping on Public Transport thing happens.

I’m driving for around 17 hours a week, weekday mornings. I can’t even begin to guess at how many buses there are on the road…..and I’ve had one a month. Then there are trams, trains, taxis – it must be 1000’s of people a week!!

I think it is time for me to let this embarrassment go!

Perhaps if there was snoring or drool it may have been different 😊

Thoughtful Considerate Bus Driver??

Seems it’s a thin line between Thoughtful, Considerate Bus Driver and Scary, Stalky Bus Driver!  This week I have had 3 incidents with passengers that have led me to feel that I am balancing precariously on that tight rope between the two!

On Tuesday I spotted Passenger Pink Straw on the other side of the road. There was a lot of traffic on Clayton Rd, so she was waiting to get across to the Bus Stop. I gave her a wave, pulled up at the Bus Stop and waited a couple of minutes for her. I have some time on this part of my route, so it seemed the right thing to do. When she got on the Bus she gave me a big smile and said thanks for waiting. I gave myself a pat on the back for being Thoughtful, Considerate Bus Driver. 

The next day I saw Passenger Long Hair running down a side street that connects to Clayton Rd. She often runs the last 20 metres to the Bus Stop but isn’t normally that far away. Obviously, I pulled up at the Bus Stop and waited for her. She was puffing as she got on the bus and thanked me for waiting. Another pat on the back to the Thoughtful, Considerate Bus Driver. 

Today I picked up Passenger Light Hair… He was the only passenger on the bus and as he likes to stand, he stood in the middle of the bus near the back door. We were one stop back from his usual stop when I heard the bell. I was a bit distracted as I knew it wasn’t his normal stop. He then called out that he had hit the button too soon as he can’t see very well in the fog. I replied that’s ok I know which stop you get off at… I looked in the mirror and saw his face. He was frightened…. like Scary, Stalky Bus Driver scared. I couldn’t say anything – Where could I go after that? I pulled up at his usual stop and he got off… he thanked me but there was also a nervous kind of look in his eyes!

Ooopppss! Crossed the line there, I guess! 

Happy Friday!

Thursday’s and Friday’s are the days that I am most likely to try and take my work home with me – which is kind of weird given that I drive a bus…. 

Over the years I have often taken my work home with me. When I worked in Administration, I would go home with thoughts of what I needed to do, who I needed to call, emails I needed to send, spreadsheets to be amended.

As a Personal Trainer I would have ideas about client’s goals and how to achieve them, options for injuries, ways to make training functional and fun.

As a Business Owner I added marketing, finances, franchisee support, weather conditions, rules and regulations – it was never ending!

I was convinced that as a Bus Driver I wouldn’t take work home with me, as there is nothing to take home! Turns out there are 3 things. As it’s always at the end of the week it’s most likely due to sleep deprivation from the 4.40am alarm. I do try to be in bed by 9pm – but that doesn’t always happen. I do try to have an afternoon nap – but that doesn’t always happen. Maybe I need to try harder… 

1. On a bus the indicator and wiper are on the left. On our car it’s the right. Driving home I occasionally turn the wipers on. Haven’t we all done that? 

2. When you stop the bus for more than 3 seconds you must pull the hand brake on. The hand brake is on the right. Often in the car I go to reach out with my right hand… Surely anyone who has driven in Europe has done that? 

3. Driving along Warrigal Road I notice the Bus Stops. If I see someone waiting, I check the mirrors, take my foot off the accelerator, gently brake and flick the indicators. Lucky they are wipers as it breaks my thoughts, makes me realise I am in my car, gives me a giggle and leaves the waiting passenger alone!! DOH!!

We’ve all tried to pick up people at the bus stop right??? 

Goodbye Training Wheels

After 6 weeks on my new bus route, I have finally become a grown-up bus driver!
Do you ever find yourself resisting change due to procrastination and/or fear?
Then the decision is made for you and you are forced to change?
That happened to me last week!

We have this groovy tool called BusMinder. It’s like Google Maps for Bus Drivers. When the bus is started the visual display comes on, along with the MYKI screen, then you select if you want the audio on as well. (Passengers can also view where their bus is via the Ventura Tracker app.) It provides directions, handy tips about intersections, turns, roundabouts, and lets you know when you are approaching the next Bus Stop. After the first week, I didn’t need the audio directions anymore so switched them off. I decided to keep the audio announcement on to know where the Bus Stops were. It was useful, as there is so much to focus on that the reminder was helpful to make sure I didn’t drive past a Bus Stop. I also felt that I could never remember all the Bus Stops – DOH!
Last Wednesday I turned the bus on, the MYKI screen came on but BusMinder didn’t – PANIC Stations! I phoned Control and was super glad I hadn’t used the radio as Rod ever so nicely (he is a sweetie) asked if I had turned it on… no, I hadn’t as I thought it was automatic!! I flicked the switch and turned on BusMinder and it fired up. I was so glad to see it working as I was telling myself this story about how I could never remember all the stops and I was bound to leave passengers behind. I drive “Not in Service” to Oakleigh Station and start from there. By the time I got to Oakleigh Station, BusMinder had tried to restart several times but had then closed again. I was a bit of a wreck when I realised, I would just have to do my best and remember as many as possible. That was a tough morning. Seeing passengers in the dark and picking them up, when I was also trying to find the stop was a challenge. It was even more challenging finding the Bus Stop when a passenger had hit the bell to get off – they know where the Bus Stop is but I wasn’t 100% certain. By the end of my shift, I realised that I hadn’t left anyone behind, surprisingly I could remember most of the stops, I didn’t crash or hit anything……… that I know of!

On Thursday I decided that I wouldn’t turn on the audio…. and to my surprise, I remembered the stops.

Third time lucky on Friday and I was fine.

Today was a new week and I decided that I was never going back to having the audio on. I was Doubting Donna and when forced to remember I could. It was a good reminder that often FEAR is just False Evidence Appearing Real.