driving an empty bus

Dear Bloggers,

This morning I had an epiphany about a difference in style between the two major jobs I’ve held. One style was driving an empty bus and the other was my time on board. That the busses are empty has to do with the summer holidays anyway this can be prtetty boring as I was used to work hard and long days. I am going to examine both as anecdotes from my perspective and try to avoid grandiose analysis.

The Empty Bus

So, I start the job and the first thing the company does is hand me the bus and give some instructions how to run it. Actually, they leave it to me and fully trust me with the material. However, once on the bus driving, I am pretty much on my own. I have a destination to reach that has been vaguely described on a scribbled piece of laminated paper. The directions are unclear and not all of them have been there before. They keep changing the directions as there are roadworks and it makes me wander if I will learn the right directions this way. But I get to drive. That is fun.

Everywhere it is empty

Every now and then, I pick somebody from the bus stop up, they make changes to my daily life as I have found someone to talk to. They do a lot of empty rides in the summertime, and that is such a shame as they have good offers you pay single fare for a return ticket. But I get to drive. That’s usually fun.

All in all, I am asked to develop my skills as a driver and with very little cooperation or directions I am improving. I am left on my own to make almost all the decisions. Even though I have weekly meetings with my mentor, I am not really given much feedback on whether I’m going the right way. He’s not a developer, he is like me just another driver so he doesn’t really know enough about what I do at the moment to give me useful feedback. My quarterly reviews aren’t very cooperative or helpful, they are more about the manager wishing that I would drive faster and make fewer mistakes (mutually exclusive goals when you think about it) so I will cost less money.

loads of space today

I nearly get into a wreck a couple times, but there’s no one on the bus to help me out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an excellent driver. I’m still learning, but some help should help things go faster in process, you’d think. The city of Groningen is not that easy to drive in with her narrow streets and sharp corners. Usually, though, my directions are so clear and well written down so they become difficult to follow that I am directed to get into wrecks as I need to do to much reading. This is not actually all that fun as time goes on.

The Ship

I know that there is no way back there and some journey’s could be boring. They sail around in circles from A to B and the other way round. On the other side of the water the doors pop open and an absurd number of hilarious characters hop out of the ship. This job is not quite like this. It’s actually more like a really crowded ferry in the summer and a ghost ship in some months of the winter, like the trip I took the other day with my wife and my two daughters there was space enough on the ship lthough it did not feel empty as you always met someone on your way. But now, imagine, that all of these people have a stake in where the ship goes and have a slightly role and different idea about how to go about getting there. Now, we’ve got a good analogy.

my last ship and loads of memories

The manager’s seat was next to mine and she gets in and out of the desk whenever she feels the need or when I ask her to. She’s a busy woman: lots of crew to help as some of them have trouble getting it, even some simple changes can make them run to her office. Usually, she gets in right before we dock which is a busy period together with the secretary we answer most of the queries and make the announcements over the public address system. We are carefully explaining things at those guests and point or sometimes even turn them into the right direction. Directly after docking we have to find drivers that did not show as they overslept or got lost. On the cardeck beneath me sits an officer whose job it is to navigate and discharge the cardecks to get them ready for the next run. He tells me by radio the license plate numbers in Nato alphabet and gives those instructions pretty regularly. Beside him there are the passengers that are waiting for the airbridge and have loads of quetions about what to expect and where to find the bus to the city. That’s annoying, but still fun.

my ''old'' working place

I get to work. As I mentioned, sometimes the job is heavy as I need to get ready for the next flow of passengers. Not many hours are left so let’s get started, visitors show up and like to talk to some of the officers and engineers who have their hand on the wheel and help push the pedals for me. This is pretty fun too, unlike the bus though, this actually gives us a lot more control. We seem to be getting places in a much more controlled way, though we do have to control our speed much more carefully. It might take us longer, but the sailing is fun along the way.

The old sailor in a new uniform as a bus driver
Unfortunately there is no chance to return to the ship and driving the bus is a lot of fun too. But a few more passengers would absolutely be a pleasure even a grumpy one would be fine. But what can I do it is summer holiday for most of us, that is why I got the job. That’s a bummer in some ways, not as much fun. I like control. And a busy day. Overall, this is more fun.

So far, I prefer the ship to the empty bus. It’s less bipolar and more slow, steady, and directed.
Unfortunenatly there is no point of return as my body cannot handle it anymore and busdriver is a nice job again when the schools will start again in a few weeks.


  1. Goedenavond Old Sailor,
    ik hoor van m'n zoon ook dat er hier niemand in de bus zit,
    hij gaat alle dagen met de bus naar het treinstation,en na drie uur komt ie weer terug,
    dan zit er weer niemand in de bus,
    hij kent de chauffeurs allemaal want als ie naar school gaat ziet ie ze ook elke dag, de chauffeur is blij als ie er is, kunnen ze even praten,z'n ov is verleden week gestopt wegens de vakantie,
    een retourtje kost normaal €2.50 nu €1.50,
    hij hoeft vaak niet eens te betalen,
    lijkt me idd erg zaai als er niemand mee rijd,
    ik dacht dat alleen hier was,
    maar in de grote stad toch ook,
    mss volgende keer ook maar in die periode vakantie nemen,

    fijn weekend gewenst,
    groetjes que.

  2. Oo, het uniform staat toppie hoor ;))

  3. Geachte Vrouwe Que,

    Dank voor uw complimentje en ja aan de leegte is niet veel te doen. We zijn natuurlijk al gauw geneigd tegenwoordig om in de auto te stappen. Want ja zeg nou zelf de bus is door de jaren heen ook niet echt goedkoper geworden. het is vakantietijd en daar zullen we het mee moeten doen.
    Een groet van the Old Sailor,

  4. Goedenavond Old Sailor,

    Ik pak ook liever de auto,
    hier gaat de bus vaak om het uur,
    dan sta je op het station een half uur te wachten soms, en met winkelen breng ik vaak wat aankopen tussen door naar de auto,ook erg handig toch,
    en idd een retourtje kost 2.50€, nu in de vakantie tijd 1.50€ en dan de trein nog, kassa,
    nog drie weken dan zijn de meeste vakanties weer voorbij,



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