Bigger Buses

My daughter and I would, from time to time, take the Fox Trot bus to her school in south Fort Collins. I didn’t ride on buses real well and when we got a poor bus driver it made my discomfort all the more apparent. One day while we were being jerked and jostled up to our stop, my daughter stated that she wished I were driving the bus. After talking to one of the more friendly drivers, I put in an application and “The rest” as they say, “is history.”

Training

In all honesty, I didn’t think I would become a driver. It took so long for Fort Collins to process my application that I had (for the most part) given up on them. When I finally did get a call from them, it took me a bit of time to figure out who I was talking to. When I was finally accepted as a trainee, I was placed with four other trainees. All five of us were brought in on the same day to keep us at the same level. The other trainees were Rick, George, Mike and Randy. Rick was kind of quiet but enjoyed a good laugh from time to time (I kind of felt he didn’t count as he was going over to “Dial A Ride”). George was a nice fellow with a big “Jarhead” look about him. George had been driving OTR for a number of years and was keeping his part time job at Airport Express. Mike was kind of a quiet sort but from time to time would breakout to exhibit a rather cutting personality. Randy was a rather loud fellow obsessed with shoving his past bus driving experience in your face at every opportunity. He would go into these long involved stories that could easily put any insomniac to sleep.

The first part of our training was split up between two people, Cathleen and Hank. Cathleen handled the administrative while Hank did most of the “hands on” training. Even though Hank was very detail-oriented, I found him or the “hands on” training so much more attractive to Cathleen’s endless ream of paperwork and monotone training videos. I won’t go into the times I almost fell asleep in Cathleen’s care.

Hank’s part was to familiarize us with Transit buses and how to properly use them. At this time we were introduced to nineteen, the training bus. Nineteen is the oldest “running” bus of Transfort’s fleet and is often talked about with a sneer by those who have worked there for some time. Nineteen is a 30 foot Bluebird transit bus of 1983 vintage but those who rode it swore it was much older! After we all took turns at nineteen Hank moved George and Randy out with other training drivers as they already had the proper endorsements on their licenses, leaving me, Rick and Mike behind. Once the three of us had obtained our endorsements, we too were set-up with other driver/ trainers.

Nineteen a 1993 Blue Bird 30 foot transit bus.

 

The job of the “driver/ trainers” was to instruct us on the routes, how to call the stops and where to take breaks. I guess you could say they instructed us on everything we really needed to know while driving “fixed route” buses under actual conditions. During my time with driver/ trainers I had 3 different ones, Hank, Pete and Jim. Out of the three, I spent most of my time with Jim.

Hank, being the instructor that I passed my CDL with and being as “detail oriented” as he was, made me nervous just to have him there. By the time the shift ended, Hank had filled both sides of a sheet of paper with things he felt I needed to address. With this many problems, I was feeling like maybe bus driving wasn’t meant for me. Jim, on the other hand was very helpful as well as informative. Jim had this almost constant chatter of things to watch for, places to take “comfort breaks,” where to use your “time stops” and what times to expect connecting routes. At the end of the shift, Jim and I would sit down and talk over some of the things that he felt I needed to work on but never made me feel I wasn’t going to make the cut. Now Pete was very different from both Hank and Jim. Pete’s way was to just sit back with the other riders and talk about taxes and the best places to live so your taxes are low. Shift end with Pete was also interesting, I went into the meeting room to wait for Pete to give me my review. I waited and waited, Pete never showed. When I asked dispatch where he was, I was informed that Pete had “left the building”. I guess that makes sense, the more I went along, the less informed I felt.

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Copyright 2009 Pokie Parmidge