I’m sitting on a city bus in Brisbane, wondering if I’ve made a huge mistake. Should I have moved to Brisbane? I’ve been catching Translink buses for weeks now, and my experiences have been nondescript. This worries me. Will there be no more Transports of Delight? Do my crazy bus stories end here? I miss Fremantle!
These thoughts are interrupted as my bus runs into a fire truck.
It is such a beautiful moment.
The other passengers are looking around in concern, muttering darkly. The bus driver sags in his seat; the mood is sombre. I am grinning like someone who just saw snow for the first time. Transports of Delight lives on! Oh ye of too much faith in the competence of bus drivers! Huzzah!
The driver’s door swings open, and he climbs out of the bus, careful not to make eye contact with any passengers. I’m craning my neck, willing light to bend so that I can see the damage on the back of the bus. Onlookers are crowding the busy street outside. We’ve sideswiped a big, red, parked fire truck.
It seems the fire truck was chock full of firefighters, all of whom are now standing around the pavement and looking stern. They seem annoyed that this has happened – annoyed, but not surprised. The bus driver, looking very small in his Translink uniform, is slowly approaching them. It looks like he’s going to try to suggest that it was their fault.
Our bus driver walks up to the main firefighter, a man who looks like he will always be called “Captain” regardless of his actual rank. Captain is standing with square shoulders and perfect posture, gazing down at him like a disappointed Phys. Ed. teacher. All that’s missing is a lanyard with a whistle around his neck. Bus Driver doesn’t stand a chance.
I can’t hear anything the two men are saying to each other, but it looks like Captain is winning. He calmly listens to Bus Driver’s hand-gesturing insistence, then razors across that with a few firm words and some clipboard-pointing. Bus Driver weakens. Other firefighters are stalking behind Captain, casually circling the two men. I’m strongly reminded of the scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where Harry and Voldemort face off within a circle of Death Eaters. (Not that I’m comparing our Bus Driver to Harry Potter … No. Harry would have seen the fire truck.)
Meanwhile, although the bus driver is clearly absent and the bus is splayed across the road with a fire truck sticking out of its bum, people are still getting on the bus. And more than one person is looking privately pleased that they didn’t have to buy a ticket. Free bus ride! Just watch out for parked rescue service vehicles!
After the incident has been thoroughly documented with everyone’s iPhone cameras, Captain dismisses Bus Driver and Bus Driver slinks back to his seat. We unstick ourselves from the fire truck and rejoin the Brisbane traffic.
When we get to my stop, I’m strangely reluctant to get out. I don’t want to leave this bus – I’m invested now. I kind of want to see what else this bus driver will do. But hey, there are plenty more reckless bus drivers where he came from. And, luckily for me, heaps of them work in Brisbane.