There can be a million things that go through your head on a daily basis when you’re driving the busses.
Obviously driving the bus is the main thing. Mostly.
Although the routes we drive on can change from week to week, we can often find ourselves riding the same circuit for several days in a year.
It’s an odd thing, to brush up next to so many people on a daily basis but not really know any of them, beyond their face, where they get on and where they get off. Somehow I feel like I know them. I’m told that this is a common phenomena in bus drivers who are early on in their careers, that it will fade with time and soon the faces will all appear the same. I’m not sure if that’s an alternative I prefer.
Many people have commented that driving a bus must be a lonely experience. That I must miss human interaction. As if the little cab I work in is towering hundreds of metres above the city, instead of rolling through the heart of it. The opposite is in fact true. Driving through and around the centre of London, I’m surrounded by thousands, probably millions of people. Far from being separated from them, I’m an intrinsic part of the city, a vital cog in the machine. It might seem like an old fashioned, or even dark way of seeing life here, but it’s something that comforts me.
Whilst I spend the hours of the day drifting around the city, nodding to fellow drivers, accepting fares, starting, stopping, I feel like I’m a part of something greater. Our city is always bustling and busy – thousands of us, like ants, crawling across the pavements and roads. We might be crossing and intersecting at strange points, but we are all working towards the same goal. All thrust in the same direction, purposefully striding forward as one.
I’ve spoken to other bus drivers about this sensation and, once more, I’m treated with the same look and condescending line. All this will pass, soon you’ll be just like us. That feeling of unification will turn to bitter loneliness. I’m not sure if that feeling will come.
Yes, the early mornings can be just as punishing as the late nights. When the Winter days come in, the nights can simply feel that they stretch on for weeks, months. If I were a trucker, rolling along deserted highways in the States, with nothing but the radio to keep me company, then perhaps the darkness would take my sanity. Endless blackness might seem like a daunting prospect, but the nights are never totally dark.
London never experiences total blackness. There is always a light on somewhere. The streetlights wink perpetually, a window is illuminated as a man rises early in the morning, thousands of white screens glow and reflect off tired faces. How can you feel alone in a place such as this?
The darkness and bitterness that grips some of the people in my occupation is not a consequence of their work environment. This disillusionment emanates from within themselves, it is a product of their warped perception of the city. They feel insignificant, a small speck that is being swarmed and surrounded by an uncaring mass.