Bus drivers suck. I never really rode the bus in the US. A few times while at university, but otherwise I drove myself around. I’m American after all. But bus drivers suck. At least the ones I have been riding with recently in Stockholm.
I try to avoid the bus. I much prefer the subway if I need to use public transportation. Sometimes it can’t be avoided though.
That’s why I took note when the bus driver started huffing and puffing. And honking. In Stockholm, the bus drivers only stop at a bus stop if you tell them to stop, or if there is someone waiting at the bus stop. It’s handy and speeds things along.
Of course, this policy, if it is an official policy of SL, came to mind when I noticed the bus driver pulling over to stop when no one had pushed the button and no one was waiting outside. Then the honking started. Angry, aggressive honking. Un-Swedish honking really. There was a car in the way. Pulled over in the bus stop lane.
The honking continued. The bus driver just kept pulling up closer and closer, all the while honking. At this point, nearly everyone in the bus had taken notice. One lady even got out of her sea to look out the front window.
Finally, the car started moving, getting out of the bus stop lane and pulling over in a non bus stop lane. It seemed like the poor guy was lost. And now confused. And maybe partially deaf.
The bus driver never actually stopped to open the doors. He just kept driving. And while driving away he was mumbling under his breath and shaking his head. Almost like he just needed an excuse to blow off some steam.
A slight case of road rage it seemed. Except from a bus driver. With quite a few people on board. Awesome. Road raging bus drivers with me on the bus make me nervous.
Of course, it got better a few days later. Different bus driver this time. Don’t ask me why I know this; it’s just one of those things that I notice. I’m a very strange person. I know.
Anyway, different bus driver. Different day. Different experience. Same nervous reaction.
I was seated just a couple seats behind the bus driver so had a good look at the front of the bus. And everyone climbing onto the bus. A woman and her small child stepped onto the bus. Got their little bus ticket stamped and moved to the back.
If you aren’t the proud owner of a 690 SEK monthly SL card (as I am) you can buy a strip of trips for 160 SEK (I lied, it's 180 SEK, thanks to Kit for that). Then you get them time stamped which allows you a certain amount of time from that time stamp. I think it is about 90 minutes (I lied again, it's an hour. Thanks again to Kit). So it is important to have the stamp on the ticket if you plan on continuing your journey with a different form of transportation.
So when the lady came back to the bus driver and said “You need to fix your stamp because I can’t read the time on my ticket,” except she said it in Swedish of course, it wasn’t a huge surprise. What was a surprise was that she did it while we were driving. What was even more of a surprise was that the bus driver decided to have a conversation with her. As we were driving. And not just have a conversation, but actually re-stamp her ticket. As we were driving.
The frightening thing was that this interaction led a noticeable devolution of the bus drivers driving skills. The bus slowed noticeably. We drifted just a tad to the left. Cars behind us started lining up. And I got a bit nervous. Finally, the lady walked away, sufficiently appeased by the new stamp. And seemingly unaware of my rising blood pressure, dilated pupils, and increased heart beat.
Please tell me this was just a coincidence. Two isolated incidents that weren’t all that isolated. Please tell me that other people don’t have similar experiences. Please.
As a general rule, I like my bus drivers to focus on driving. Not getting angry at cars. Not taking the time to stop and stamp a ladies ticket as we were driving. I like my bus driver to get me to my destination without wondering whether I should get off at the next stop and just wait for another bus. Or walk. Walking seems safe.
On a completely unrelated note, I saw a guy walking around Slussen the other day with a medical face mask on. He’s been paying way too much attention to the Swedish cases of swine flu.
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