An Infernal Occupation

Backstory Biernes #7, Friday, June 19th, 2015: Bus Drivers

I have lived in New York City for most of my life. 33 years to be exact. Since 2010, I have lived outside this city of my birth. Between the four countries that I have been lucky enough to call home for a while, I have found many differences as well as many similarities. Unfortunately, one thing has been strikingly and possibly nefariously similar.

Bus drivers.

Many of you have probably read my short story Bus Drivers already and have some idea of where I am going with this. Maybe it is just my bad luck, but everywhere I go, it’s the same.

Bus drivers are evil.

I have had such memorably awful experiences with the members of this particular vocation that I was inspired to write a short story about how the only explanation for their evilness must be that they are an alien race bent on the destruction of humanity.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had a bus driver completely ignore me in the middle of the night or early in the morning or really any time of the day when it would have been easier than anything to just open their doors and welcome me on with open arms.

You might be tempted to think that bus drivers are sticklers for rules or are beholden to schedules that they dare not skirt. I assure you that for every time a bus driver has left me in the dust, I have seen that same bus driver let a passenger on without paying or behave rudely to a passenger a dozen times. You might also be tempted to make the excuse that “everybody can have a bad day.” Normally, I would agree with you. But bus drivers, not matter what they do, good or bad, seem to have a power complex. I used to believe that it had to do with the fact that they are tasked with dealing with some of the strangest people on the face of the planet–bus passengers. And although I still believe that bus riders, especially in NYC, are a peculiar bunch, I have since realized that some people depend on buses for their livelihood. Buses often go where trains and trams can not and therefore have a special flexibility that I believe goes to the head of many bus drivers.

They think they’re special, but no one else does. I call it the Ralph Cramden Syndrome. By fulfilling a special need, but never getting any real respect, like old Ralphie boy, they feel slighted.

But even this doesn’t explain why bus drivers outside of NYC seem to take pleasure in leaving poor boys like me behind. In Buenos Aires and Medellín, where buses are an important mode of transportation, buses have left me in the rain. They have slowly bumped own the street as I ran frantically alongside them.

In Berlin, I have chased buses like a dog.

In almost every instance where I have been slighted by a bus driver, I have re-encountered the infringing conductor of gas-guzzling tonnage only to be met with a grim, uncaring glare.

No matter how many times I run it through my head, I can’t understand why anyone would ignore another human being shouting, flailing his arms and pouring with sweat while chasing a moving vehicle down the road.

Unless they get off on it.

I know I can’t be the only one who has experienced this. And although I will never stop chasing buses, pounding on their doors to let me in and shouting morbid and imaginative profanities after them, I know that there must be some reason they are so hell-bent on destroying people’s days and crushing their hearts.

My only consolation is to write as many stories as possible revealing this widespread menace to the world and creating bus driver characters that I can torture as much as their real-world counterparts torture me.

So if you didn’t know already, my fictional story Bus Drivers is based on my real-world adversarial relationship with these seemingly innocuous so-called professionals.