I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to be a city transit bus driver. I actually have applied for such a position here in High Point. And I wondered how long it would take a person to go crazy after driving from wherever they store the buses, to the downtown transportation hub to the Oak Hollow Mall to that other place and another one…. and do that 15 or 20 times a day.
But I think I’m beginning to get the gist of it. Since May, I’ve made something like 15 trips across the country, driving a school bus. I average 550 miles a day, and it’s a five-day trip. I leave High Point, drive to either Paducah, Kentucky or Metropolis, Illinois on the first day. The second day takes me from there, across Missouri (St. Louis to Kansas City) and a stop in either Rock Port, Missouri, or Percival, Iowa. Then the third night’s stop is generally in Laramie, Wyoming. From there to Bliss, Idaho (just north of Twin Falls,) and then, depending on whether I’m going to Seattle or Portland, either somewhere near Ellensburg, Washington, or The Dalles, Oregon.
My point is that what would have, one year ago, been an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime journey has now become almost routine. Don’t get me wrong. I like it. But when I see that one lonely Conoco gas station, I know I’m near Elk Mountain, Wyoming. I know by name (almost) the folks who work at the Love’s Truck Stop in Wamsutter, Wyoming. My friend Ed, at the Amber Inn Motel in Bliss, Idaho, gives me a special rate, and we always have a good, old buddy-type conversation.
I can now drive from High Point, North Carolina to either Seattle or Portland without consulting a map. I do have my GPS on most of the time, because it tells me how many more miles to my night’s destination, or how long it’ll take me to get there.
Along the way, there’s spectacular scenery, some of which I’ve shared with you. There are also antelope, deer, prairie dogs, and large birds of prey. But much to my amazement, it is quickly becoming routine. But it’s a routine I can live with, particularly when I think of my life prior to this: in a radio station control room or production studio… or at my desk in the cubicle. No health benefits… I have to keep detailed records (which is not my strong suit) and compliance with DOT regulations about how many hours I can drive (11 in one day, with ten hours of rest.)
Many months ago, before I involuntarily became a single guy again, I applied to Greyhound. Well, they finally got around to understanding, provisionally, what a great guy I am, and sent me an invitation to interview with them in Charlotte on Tuesday. If I pass the first stage, then I go to some computer training classes, and a DOT physical. Then, if that goes well, it’s on to Greyhound University for two weeks, in Atlantic City, Dallas, or several other locations. There, I’ll be put up in a hotel with a roommate, I’ll get a per diem, and have intensive and, apparently, difficult school work: Class work, on-the-road driver training, and more. All while wearing a white dress shirt, black pants, black socks, black shoes, and a black tie. Seriously.
Then if I make the cut, I’ll be hired as a Greyhound bus driver.
Never, in a million years as a broadcaster, did I ever think that someday I’d wind up driving a Greyhound bus. And, of course, I can’t WAIT to meet the clientele… but that’s just me being an elitist. But I’ve heard horror stories. I’ve also heard horror stories about Greyhound customer service: rude drivers, nasty ticket agents, and all that. But I will never be a rude driver… I believe in top-notch customer service. Particularly if they allow you to take a thermos full of martinis to swig on every fifty or so miles.
In any case, my life over the next few months could become anything but routine.
Anyway, if that’s the next chapter in my life, well, so be it. I’ll tackle it with enthusiasm and verve. Not to mention vim and vigor. What the hell IS vim, anyway?
I’ll keep you posted.