This Banana Has Gone Bad

Transports of Delight

I always feel safer on a bus, don’t you?

I mean, when I’m driving, I feel the burdensome weight of responsibility. It’s just me, my frail body locked inside a thin metal shell, hurtling at unnatural speeds through chaos. If I lose concentration for even a second, I could cause immeasurable damage – to myself, to my passengers, to unwitting strangers. Car accidents are horrible, life-altering, and everywhere.

But riding the bus is fun!

I mean, buses just feel safer. They’re bigger, for one thing. There’s something comforting about riding in the biggest thing on the road. And they have have their own lanes. Everything about the bus has this “get outta my way” attitude. They cruise along at their own pace and don’t make room for anyone else on the road. Being on the bus is like being friends with your school’s biggest bully: you’re untouchable.

I used to tell myself that bus drivers are trained and therefore better drivers, but I can no longer follow that particular rainbow. If you’re still holding onto that misty-eyed illusion, just look at this photo again:

(I think they left “don’t read the paper while driving” out of the bus driver exam, because it should be bleeding obvious.) Nonetheless, I love riding the bus. Sitting high up in the back seats, I feel a little detached from everything that’s whizzing by my window. It’s as if all that traffic out on the road is happening to someone else. If I sped around corners and swung dangerously close to traffic light poles in my own car, my passengers would be justifiably anxious. When my bus driver does the same thing, I just think, “WHEEEEE!” Like it’s a fairground ride.

And when I was a kid, the best public fairground ride of all was THE BANANA BUS. Oh, the times we had! I used to love riding on the bendy buses, with the turntable in the middle that would creak and rotate when the bus went around a corner. I remember class excursions on the banana bus, when only the coolest kids would stand in the bendy bit. It was a crazy feeling, like being inside the accordion of an insane accordionist.

But my rosy memory of banana buses has been compromised. While perusing brisbanetimes.com.au this week, I found this:

BANANA BUSES TAKEN OFF THE ROAD

A safety check has ruled 300 articulated buses off Australian roads after a Queensland Transport and Main Roads-ordered audit.

… The bus order followed a dramatic crash on the Pacific Motorway on March 30, when an articulated bus abruptly turned and ended up facing oncoming traffic.

What? Crash? No! This is no good. Another layer of my childhood memories, peeled away like so much banana peel.

It’s as if catching the bus was a large, delicious-looking banana, its perfect yellow skin assuring me of the sweet fruit within. But when I went to peel it, I discovered that this banana was rotten. (Yes, the banana peel was my childhood memories in the last paragraph, but now it represents the act of catching the bus – it’s as if this change in metaphors is a metaphor for the dramatic change in my feelings when I realised that buses are not as safe as I thought.)

If banana buses (the funnest buses!) aren’t safe, then I might have to rethink my entire attitude towards bus travel. Gone are my comfortable illusions of safety. I will now ride the bus with an appropriate sense of barely-contained terror, ready to wedge myself under my seat at the first sign of danger. It’s a mad world we live in. A mad, mad world.

Condescending Santa Claus

Transports of Delight

Ugh, why do they do this?

I’ve got my Go Card ready to swipe, I’m getting on the bus in an orderly fashion, but the driver stops me. He has something to say.

I wait, wearily, standing with my bags full of shopping in the entrance of the bus. I think I know what’s coming, because I’ve become familiar with this routine. I’m about to get the “You’re An Idiot and Here’s Why” speech.

The bus driver barks at me. “Did you get off here for the markets earlier?” (This is not tricksy detective work on his part; I’m holding a potted fern in a plastic bag and a flyer for the Australian Greens.)

I look around. I’ve been walking around the area all morning, and I’m not sure which bus stop I used. “Um, yeah, probably.”

The driver laughs, but he says the laughs – “HA. HA. HA.” He is pleased to have identified my stupidity. His thick white beard shakes, making him look like a condescending Santa Claus.

“Dude,” – it’s weird hearing ‘dude’ from Santa – “I stop at the markets until twelve today! HA. HA. You could have gotten off there! I sang it out when we set off, didn’t you hear?” I stare at him. I wasn’t on his bus earlier.

Finally he lets me go, and I find a seat while the rest of the passengers watch me. This is so frustrating. I am still new to this town, so I already feel like a lost idiot most of the time. I appreciate when bus drivers offer friendly advice, but now they’re taking extra time to point out things I could’ve done better? Come on, dude!

This comes after weeks of bus drivers pointing out my idiocy. One driver, when we reached a stop, pulled the bus over with a wrench and turned to glare at me. “GIRL IN THE PURPLE SHIRT!” he roared down the bus. “THIS DOES NOT GO TO YOUR STOP! GET OFF HERE!” I thanked him with all meekness and immediately got up to leave. As I went to step off the bus, the driver held me back. “I TOLD YOU THREE TIMES! I SAID, THREE TIMES, THIS DOES NOT GO TO THE ‘GABBA! I TOLD YOU!” I repeated my thanks and quickly jumped off the bus, burning with embarrassment. I now realise that when I had earlier asked him politely “Does this bus go to the ‘Gabba?”, that mumbling sound he made was in fact the word “No”. Ah geez.

But I say to you, bus drivers, that you are not so perfect! Some of you run into fire trucks! And last night, I snapped this:

As soon as we reached a red light, the bus driver whipped out the paper and had a read of the news. Safe driving? Smart choices? Intelligent, well-balanced publication? No, no, and nope.

Bus drivers: 2.

Me: 1.

I’M FINALLY ON THE BOARD! Take that, bussies.