Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bus Driver Inspiration

Remember how a couple of days ago I was all braggy about the sunshine and mild temperatures in Vancouver? Mother Nature set me straight this morning.

I could hear the rain running through the drain pipes when I woke up. I could hear it against the windows while I was eating breakfast. I could see it coming down on the local news station. And yet? I was completely unprepared for the monsoon that greeted me when I stepped out the door. For some reason I thought that runners (my special looking ones at that) would be appropriate footwear for wading through puddles and swimming through storm drains overflowing with Now and Then-esque force.

Do you totally know what scene I’m talking about? Poncho? Night time? Crazy Pete? Alright.

So my feet were wet, my umbrella was a sham and my bus driver? Downright chipper.

Normally, this would irritate me. How could someone that drives around city traffic, dealing with a-hole commuters at their worst, be happy? At 6:30 in the morning?!

It’s not like I interviewed him for an answer or anything. I’m amazed that I can sit upright for the entire journey at that hour of the day, let alone badger the bus driver (while he’s trying to drive) about what inspires him to be pleasant. But it is something that I’ve been noticing. Because my new earlier bus driver? Is above and beyond awesome. So Translink? Read further.

Because I start work earlier, I’ve started taking an earlier bus. I wish that I could tell you what route I take in the morning and what bus number- but I kind of feel like that crosses the line into my real life a little too much. Not that I think you are all crazy and will stalk me (although it might have crossed your mind) common sense prevails. Suffice it to say I leave my stop about 6:35 and arrive downtown at about 7:12- for the benefit of Translink so they can recognize this awesome employee (although come to think of it, there are probably lots of different routes that fit this criteria).

First off, he greets each passenger with a good morning AND a smile. Which seems small but let’s face it, in today’s world, that amount of interaction with a stranger is noteworthy. Then he drives in a safe and timely manner. Again- seems minor. But on city streets with the stresses of working life, people drive like maniacs wanting to get to their destinations yesterday, and woe betide those that get in the way. Safe, calm driving is important.

Finally, this bus driver (I feel like I should know his name) interacts with the passengers over the bus PA. Before the last few stops he gives us a weather update (which this morning included lots of rain and that he hoped we had all brought our umbrellas), lets us know about anything newsworthy and even includes some safety tips, urging us to please use marked crosswalks when crossing the streets. Today he even included a transit etiquette tip: that even though its wet outside, to please not leave wet umbrellas on the seat beside you, as a courtesy to other passengers who may not want to sit on a wet seat.

Its effective guys. His demeanor is catching. He has turned what could be a miserable job (city traffic, nasty weather, a-hole sleep deprived commuters) into a pleasant, uplifting interaction. Nearly everyone thanks him as they de-bus which is rare. Whenever people  yell thank you as they leave the bus it still catches me by surprise (even though I do it too) because it almost never happens. In the morning now? You look like a jacka$$ if you don’t say thanks.

I’m impressed with his attitude. I’m impressed that he gets me to work safely every morning. I love that he seems to love his job and wants to make everyone else’s day a little bit better. I look forward to his weather reports, his one-way banter. I was disappointed when one day last week I got a different bus driver.

I hope that he gets recognized for the awesome job that he does. People definitely respond to his attitude. And I thought that I would tell other people about this bus driver, in the hopes that it maybe inspires other people to pay it forward? You know, make some of your daily interactions a little more pleasant- even if they are with grouchy, damp, zombie-like commuters.

It looks like things really have changed around here!


  1. Great story - hope you send a link to this to Translink customer support with something to identify him (bus number, time of day) so that he can get a gold star on his employee file.

  2. Great bus drivers are a rare occurrence so please do send them a praise via Translink's

    The heading says customer complaint but there's a box for Commendation.

    I enjoy your cheerful posts