or, How to drive a bus (part 5)
Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5 
Part 6     Part 7     Part 8     Part 9     Part 10
 Part 11     Part 12     Part 13     Part 14     Part 15

My training to drive the bus continues, and continues to be challenging, though I haven't yet sat behind the wheel. 

August 10, 2022

Being a bus driver doesn't sound like a physically-demanding job, but it's not just about driving the bus. We've been spending lots of time — all of Monday and Tuesday — learning how to guide blind people from the curb onto the bus, how to operate the bus's wheelchair lift, and how to secure wheelchairs and walkers inside the bus.

Many or most passengers will be in wheelchairs, and every wheelchair must be secured via snaps and accessories that click into grooves on the bus's floor. It's complicated — there are four connection-points for manual wheelchairs, or six for electric wheelchairs, and every wheelchair passenger must be secured too, separately, via three-point seatbelts, which are also secured via snaps and accessories on the floor and wall.

None of this is automated, or built-in like the seatbelts in your car. The driver does it all. Every time a passenger in a wheelchair or walker gets on and then again when he/she gets off, there's work the driver has to do, and it involves a heck of a lot of bending over — kneeling, basically, on the hard floor of the bus.

Securing a wheelchair is a 50+-step procedure, and it's tricky, because the straps that click into the floor and walls don't necessarily want to click. It's a lot of work for an old, fat man like me, squatting or kneeling on the floor, clicking and adjusting 4-6 straps for each wheelchair, without dropping any of the kinda-heavy equipment on the passenger's foot or accidentally swinging a metal buckle into someone's face. 

Getting down to the floor, though, and then getting back up again when everything's connected — that's the most difficult part of the job. Securing a wheelchair and passenger should take a minute or two, and we're newbies so it's taking us longer than that, but it's taking me longer than my classmates half my age. When I'm done, my old, fat heart is racing, and I'm sweaty. 

I'll get the hang of it, if I last long enough, and when I'm actually driving the bus, most of my time will be spent driving. Connecting or disconnecting securements for people in wheelchairs will only need to be done every 15 or maybe 25 minutes during an 8-hour shift. While we're learning it, though, we're doing it over and over and over again, hours on end, and it's exhausting. 

I'm not the oldest, fattest, and most out-of-shape new hire in the class, though. Mitch is older, bigger, and says he's coming back from a double knee replacement.

He walks slowly, has balance issues, and prefers to sit when the rest of us are standing. After every wheelchair and practice-passenger he's secured, his face is covered with beads of sweat, and it's obvious that getting down to the floor and then up again is very difficult for him. He looks like he should be riding the disabled bus, not driving it.

Several times, the teacher has asked, "Are you OK, Mitch?" while he's on the floor, working the straps and securements. She's only asked me that once, and she hasn't asked anyone else, so as much as I feel sorry for Mitch, I'm also kinda glad he's there. If he wasn't, I'd be the old man struggling to get down to the floor, and then to get up again. And I am struggling, but Mitch is struggling more.

We've talked, briefly, about being the oldest two in the class. He's the ex-cop I've mentioned a few times, but he's not an asshole (it's a conundrum). Sometimes we say encouraging words to each other.

Toward the end of the class yesterday, we were all practicing the securement procedure, but not inside a bus. We were in the garage, gathered around a wooden mock-up about the same size as the bus, with the same ratchet-style grooves embedded in the floor.

Securing a wheelchair on the mock-up is easier, because the other student-drivers are watching you from chairs ten feet away, instead of standing over you, or sitting in the bus's chairs. You have more room to work and breathe and think.

On the bus, though, you can shift some of your weight to the seats and stanchions for help getting down to the floor and up again afterwards. On the mock-up, it's just you and the floor, so after Mitch had connected the securements to the floor, when he tried standing up again, he tumbled and went down.

He landed roughly on a knee, then rolled with a crash onto the wooden floor, and then smashed into the cement wall. It was scary to see, and some of my classmates screamed. Mitch simply said, "Whoops" from the floor. The teacher and a younger, more able-bodied student than me helped him to his feet, then to a chair.

After that, the safety protocol required our teacher to alert management, and a first aid team came, to apply dressing and bandages to Mitch's knee. There was required paperwork, and we all signed witness statements documenting what had happened.

Management wanted Mitch to seek medical treatment, because our teacher thought he'd loudly hit his head against the wall when he fell. Mitch declined, and insisted that the 'thud' we'd all seen and heard was his back hitting the wall, not his head. "I'm fine, I'm fine," he kept saying.

I'm 75% sure Mitch was telling the truth — that his back, not his head, had hit the wall. The 'thud' had been so loud that if it had been his head, he would've been disoriented, and he wasn't.

It was obviously painful and embarrassing for him, though. Eventually a manager took him to a table, way at the other end of the room, for more paperwork and a long talk we couldn't hear.

The fall had taken only a second, but the aftermath took an hour or so, and Mitch was still talking to a suit at that table when the rest of us went home. From the doorway I shouted to him, "Stay strong, Mitch — see you tomorrow!" but I'm not sure we will.

Next: Absolutely not ready
or, How to drive a bus (part 6)


Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5 
Part 6     Part 7     Part 8     Part 9     Part 10
 Part 11     Part 12     Part 13     Part 14     Part 15

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not…    

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They're still trying to destroy People's Park in Berkeley, but Berkeley is fighting back.

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Massive security breach exposes anonymous Twitter accounts' email addresses and phone numbers 

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Right-wing apparel company fined for swapping "Made in China" tags for "Made in USA" 

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Little Leaguer charges the mound very slowly, after being hit by pitch 

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Some talkative attorney explains the enormity of Alex Jones's lawyers incompetence 

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Gotta respect the hermit:
Joyce Vincent's death went unnoticed for more than two years, as her corpse lay undiscovered at her boarding house

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...

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The End
Lamont Dozier
Olivia Newton-John

Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. Of course Alex Jones would higher a lawyer who would send all Alex’ emails to the prosecution. The best part was the judge trying not to laugh on CourtCam. She was mostly unsuccessful.


    1. I know it's complicated and that pesky old First Amendment gets in the way so I have no idea how to do this, but in an ideal world no-one should be allowed to use mass-media to tell blatant lies to millions of people, over and over again.


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