The Ten Most Loveable Traits of an SBS Driver
1. Quick Reflexes
Don't you marvel at the way bus drivers can swing into a bus bay at speed and not plough into the mindless mass jostling to board the behemoths we call public transport? They seem to go from 80 to 0 km/h in 2.06 seconds and are still able to stop on a dime.
2. Discrete Quality Control
Many bus drivers seem to have a built-in need to put the engine, gears and brakes to the ultimate test each time they drive. In starting and stopping suddenly, bus drivers give their passengers a free bowel cleansing and chiropractic service. Picture this: a traffic stop (light already red) or bus stop is only 10 metres away but Mr SBS decides to gun the engine before applying the brakes so that the stuff in your rectum makes an involuntary backward tour to your mouth. Other assorted flying objects include groceries, empty Coke cans, soiled baby diapers and the odd senior citizen or two.
Other drivers opt to compensate for the lack of ABS and hit the brakes repeatedly so that everyone looks like they are doing the chicken-walk or listening to some funky music. If the braking action is rapid, then everyone (except the driver) looks like they are being exorcised of demons as they jerk about. It's their way of discreetly telling you "You are all jerks!"
Schumacher, Hakkinen and Villenueve wannabes, some SBS drivers treat their routes like well memorised race tracks. This benefits the passengers as they get to their destinations more quickly (but whether that destination is an earthly one or not is subject to change). Armed with powerful Volvos/Scanias, buses have been known to overtake puny Japanese cars with glee. I have been in a bus that overtook one such car while going up a flyover. Never mind the number of traffic rules that were flouted, I not only got home in good time but also got to enjoy the look of fear in the eyes of the car driver.
4. Appreciation for Life
SBS drivers seem to know that too much of a good thing is not good. So in the ying and yang of speed, some take the time to smell the roses (or the ixora/hibiscus/orchids in our case). To do so, they often drive v-e-r-y, very s-l-o-w-l-y as they near a bus interchange. Just how slow do they go? Well, you could watch your toe nails and beard grow... and that's if you are a woman. I could almost swear that a toddler I saw on board a bus was somewhere in the throes of puberty by the time we disembarked... or was that his son?
Actually I exaggerate. To say that they go at snail's pace is an insult to the molluscs. A traditional karang guni man pushing a fully laden cart with one foot in a cast and the other in the grave could blow by while gesticulating every bad sign in his repertoire!
5. Good Time Management
Sometimes the rear view mirrors aren't adjusted properly before the bus leaves an interchange. So how? Well, I have witnessed at least one resourceful driver use the wait at a traffic stop to adjust the mirror that was outside the bus. He opened the door, stepped out, fiddled with the mirror, stepped back in, checked the view, went back out again, adjusted the mirror and repeated the process until he had a good view of the driver in the rear making bad signs at him. I have even had the privilege of watching one bus driver get off at a bus stop, collect a packaged meal at a kopi tiam near by and merrily hop back on the bus.
Such good time management is also illustrated when the driver hurtles the bus along like a diarrhoea victim in search of a toilet for 95% of their route only to slow down on the remaining 5% to enjoy the scenery... and, yes, to collect lunch.
Some drivers are so focused on getting from one interchange to the next that they blast by bus stops and leave commuters behind waving at smoke. One wonders why they are called bus stops. And has the following ever happened to you? You spot the bus a distance away and make a dash for it (squashing ants, snails and toads underfoot), you reach the bus and do a frantic dance at the door only for the bus to gleefully pull out of the bus bay.
Perhaps the bus cannot stop as the driver is one of very few who are not well-endowed in the bladder and rectum department. A nicotine fix perhaps? They won't light up in a bus, not with such prominent signs that say "Smoking is Against the Law, Buddy". Not with $1,000 fines dangling over their heads. No, they'll make their way to the next bus interchange where the signs are less obvious and the yellow no smoking zone lines are non-existent to suck on their cancer sticks.
7. Oblivious to Discomfort
By and large, most bus drivers seem to have cavernous bladders/rectums and/or very strong sphincters to stem the tide and slide. Perhaps the din of the traffic deafens them to the call of nature. Or perhaps they let go of the mounting tension by transferring the excess energy elsewhere. That might explain the jerky movements of the bus!
Some drivers seem to have a temperature regulation system superior to ours. They do not feel the cold of their moving meat freezers nor the heat of their mobile saunas. Some drivers seem to show their support for our Antarctica team by turning the thermostat so low that even thought bubbles precipitate. Others don't realise that the air-con is gone so that you can almost see thirsty camels in a mirage.
And at peak travel time, even though passengers in the front are squashed into the windshield and each others' armpits, some drivers cannot see their plight. Perhaps their well-adjusted rear view mirrors only allow them to see the contented faces of passengers sprawled at the back of the bus.
8. Good Judge of Distance
Ever notice how buses go bumper to bumper as they line up at traffic lights or near bus stops (sometimes so close that it the buses look like a train pulling into a stop)? Some get really close to other vehicles too, e.g. cars or taxis that overtook the bus and showed the bus driver the finger. The bus drivers get so close to the next vehicle
a) they remind me of dogs smelling each others' butts
b) you can count the number of flakes of dandruff on the head of a passenger in the bus in front
c) subatomic particles cannot pass thru' the gap between the buses/light undergoes diffraction
d) all the above
Despite the modern design of buses, some drivers clearly feel that more could be done in terms of driver comfort. Not people who complain, they take action instead. Have you seen the novel sunshades constructed out of newspaper or old cardboard boxes? How about the selection of water bottles (one for drinking, one for windscreen, one for engine, one not for input but for, erm, output?) Or the small bucket for haaaak-ptui-ing into? Or the China-brand towel around the neck to absorb sweat?
10. Not Superstitious
Why else would they be oblivious to the "ghost" that often occupies the rear of the bus? Never mind that during the good old days, there were Hungry Ghost Festival huge altars spring up at bus interchanges to feed ravenous spirits. Never mind that they produce enough smoke to rival that of our annual haze. At least it keeps the mossies away... Well you won't find it in the good spanking new air conditioned Toa Payoh Interchange.
No, there is no ghost at the back of SBS buses as far as the drivers are concerned. There is also no point to this blog
Thank you for taking this trip with me, I hope you enjoyed the ride. That will be 2.10 cents, please.