Why I Love NYC Bus Drivers

During our recent heat wave, which seems not to be ending anytime soon, I’ve been taking the bus most mornings rather than walking to the subway station.

Eschewing the 10-block walk to and from the subway stop is not the best way to stay physically fit. But it’s been too hot outside and it’s just disgusting arriving at the station dragging a pool of sweat.

Each day, I curse Mayor Bloomberg whenever I board a bus or a train thronged with commuters — which is just about every morning. In a cavalier manner (which is his way when dealing with just about everything), he has cut services on all commuter buses and trains due to the “economy.”

Just the other morning, climbing down the staircase during rush hour, I was not able to descend onto the subway platform itself — because every inch was filled with commuters. Not to mention commuter backwash, which was spilling upwards onto the stairs.

A man next to me on the stairs complained loudly, “Forget this s#!t,” and climbed back up the stairs to the station. I guess he decided to call in sick.

In times like these, I always recall Jack Nicholson’s line in the movie “Five Easy Pieces,” snarled right after he pounds the steering wheel while sitting in rush hour traffic: “Do  you believe having to start your day like this?!”

Amen to that. And, oh, thanks for all your play-acting, Mayor Bloomberg. However, I suppose this means that because of all your cuts, you will no longer pretend to make your faux commutes to the subway (you know the ones I mean, where your chauffeur drives you to the station and then you ride the train for, like, one stop, but only if there’s a news camera present…?)

There is an upside to all of this. And that is the NYC bus drivers.

They are most patient individuals in the city. Sometimes they plead: “Puleeese would you step to the back of the bus? Pretty please?”

Sometimes they turn their entreaty into song: to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” – “Passengers on the bus please move to the back, move to the back, move to the back.”

Other times, they verbally ramble: “It would be soooo nice if you would just move back so that your fellow passengers can board the bus. We all have to go to work here. Lah di dah…”

Occasionally, the driver will turn into your third grade teacher. He or she will say: “Please move to the back. We cannot get going until you move to the back.” If no one moves, he will just sit there. And sit there. (Remember in school when your teacher would say: “I will not continue until everyone is quiet.” And then just sit there until the class was shamed into shutting up?)

And not only that, in the mornings when it is so crowded, the front of the bus is packed to the door and you are standing at the stop staring at the crowd in despair, our Wonderful Bus Driver will say: “You wanna go in the back door?” and then open the door so two or three people can squeeze in back there.

Wonderful Bus Driver isn’t all hung up on having you swipe your Metro Card at the front of the bus. Because Wonderful Bus Driver knows darn well that everyone on his bus will be getting off at the subway stop and will be swiping their card in the subway turnstile — and, thus, paying their fare.

It’s a transfer fare either way, so the city doesn’t lose a cent. You either swipe your Metro card on the bus or in the subway; same difference.

The bottom line? NYC Bus Drivers rock. I, for one, would like to reinforce how much WE APPRECIATE YOU!!!!

There’s a reason that most passengers de-boarding the bus at their stop say thank you to the driver. It’s because they deserve it.

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