The eyes play tricks…

We rely on our eyesight to give us an accurate description of what is happening in front of us. Our eyes tell us a story so we can decide what behaviour or action is required. As a Bus Driver I need my eyesight to tell me lots of things. Picking up passengers is one of those situations that my eyesight frequently gives me a bum steer on – especially when it is dark/foggy/raining/overcast!

My eyesight is something I started questioning in the early 90’s. My partner and I were walking along a cliff trail. The tide was low and as we walked along we were looking out at the water and a natural stone jetty. Out on the jetty I saw about 30 people that I assumed were males wearing tuxedos. They were milling around in small groups, talking, and chatting. I was really curious about what was happening! I thought it must have been a photoshoot, but I couldn’t see any photographer or equipment anywhere. As I got closer, I realised that it probably wasn’t male shapes and it was probably female shapes as they were quite small. Still, I couldn’t see any equipment, but I was curious about what was happening. After all, this was 1990 and women wearing tuxedos were newsworthy! I said something to my partner like – what do you think all those people are doing down there wearing tuxedos? He started laughing – like full-on, belly laughing, tears running down his face. I was a little bit offended and insulted at being laughed at for asking a question… Through his laughter, he said “Penguins”. Initially, I was so embarrassed! Until I realised that he was right. They were penguins walking around on this rock shelf. Their actions and behaviour seemed so human-like that my eyes had said they were humans….. so eyes cannot be trusted.

When driving a bus, you are constantly looking out for the next bus stop, looking to see if there is a passenger there. Things that can confuse the eyes and tell the eyes a story that “yes – there is a passenger there” can be all sorts of things. Benches, poles, light reflecting off an object, trees, chairs, shopping trolleys, hard rubbish. OH, Bin day is really bad! Not to mention people walking away or towards the stop. People standing at bus stops with their little dog sniffing. All sorts of things. One of my “favourites” is a parking meter at Box Hill that I often think is a passenger!

In one of my assessments, I pulled up at a stop for a pole and a tree that looked like a human. I was really embarrassed and thought that I was going to get in trouble for that. The instructor Julie was awesome. She started telling me that it is much better to think that there is a passenger and pull up than drive by. She told me all sorts of stories of objects that she had pulled up for over the years. Having been a bus driver for a couple of decades she had quite a few stories to tell!

I guess for me it’s clarity that what we see with our eyes is not necessarily the truth. If you show a picture to half a dozen people, they will all have a different version of what was in that picture. The colours, the event, the objects, the faces, the story that was told. It is all based upon our own experiences, training, mood, attitude, personality, beliefs, values, morals and of course how wild our imagination is! I think it’s a good reminder that just because we think we have seen something it’s good to question that. As I do on a regular basis as there are a lot of Bus Stops on my route!

However, it is getting a little brighter and lighter now. There are more tricks to be played when it is dark.
Hopefully, in the coming weeks, my eyes won’t play so many of their little tricks!

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