In the good old days, when I worked in the centre of Preston and could commute to work on the bus, that’s exactly what I did. I caught the bus to work in the morning and caught it home again at night. This was a great arrangement, although I thought the bus fares were a rip off (and still do). I read about 2 books a week, and listened to music on my personal cassette player. I didn’t have to worry about sitting in traffic – well, I didn’t worry about that, although I frequently sat in traffic; I do nowadays, now that I drive into work. I just sat there, reading my book and listening to the Foo Fighters or Nirvana or whatever took my fancy that day.
I think that was a great benefit of commuting into work on a bus: I got to read books and listen to music. Well, I suppose they were two great benefits: reading books, listening to music and not worrying about sitting in traffic. Ah, it’s getting a bit Spanish Inquisitiony here…
One other benefit was that some of the bus drivers were very pleasant, some were great characters and some were all three. One such was an Asian bus driver. I never got to know his name but then I didn’t really need to. I called him Sir Crash.
He always had a smile for all his passengers and was just a generally friendly kind of chap. It was his smile that earned him the name Crash. He raised his eyebrows in a way extremely reminiscent of Crash Bandicoot. The way he got his honorific title was probably not company policy and might have got him in serious trouble. He saw me walking up my road one morning to catch the bus and stopped his bus to let me on. He was on a roundabout at the time and held up traffic until I’d got on. Thereafter I referred to him as Sir Crash because he was a gentleman to do it. He stopped on the roundabout a couple of times and held traffic up on the dual carriageway once or twice to let me on. In a way, there was a danger that he could have lived up to the name Crash in more ways than one if he hadn’t been careful. Fortunately, he didn’t cause any crashes when I was on the bus (or running for it).
He did have an altercation with a taxi driver once. I was sat on the bus, reading my book and minding my own business when I noticed something was going on. We were stopped at a red light and I think there was some shouting and swearing – something like that – and Sir Crash pulled the bus out and round in front of the offending vehicle: a taxi. He hemmed him in and got out. So did the taxi driver. I don’t know what he said but he took the taxi’s number down and the taxi driver swung for him, at which point, Sir Crash got back into the bus and carried on his journey as if nothing had happened. However, at the bus station, he asked us all if we would be witnesses for him. I gladly agreed and gave him my work number.
I got a call later that day from an ex-policeman, who was now working in the taxi licensing department. I told him what I’d seen and hoped the taxi driver got in real trouble. I liked Sir Crash.
I think he was moved onto another bus route after a while because I stopped seeing him. Occasionally, I’d be waiting at the Bus Station, head in a book and miles away, and someone would tap me on the shoulder. I’d look up and there would be my favourite Asian bus driver, smiling and raising his eyebrows, just like Crash Bandicoot. These meetings got rarer and rarer and then my company moved offices and I had to start driving to work.
I now read a book a year, if I’m lucky. I can listen to my favourite music on the CD player in my car, if I want to, but I seem to listen to Radio 4 more than anything else. I hardly ever catch a bus nowadays and it’s always a treat if I do, although I still think the fares are a rip off. I never see Sir Crash at all. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I miss him but I did enjoy being a passenger on his bus and I hope Stagecoach treat him well nowadays.