There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Potty talk on the bus

When NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak wanted to be sure she wouldn't have to stop when she drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando to do battle with her competitor for the affections of astronaut William Oefelein, she donned a pair of NASA diapers.

Is there application here for Sacramento Regional Transit?

Depends.

The No. 82 bus that leaves American River College at 8:04 a.m. managed to arrive a minute early, which is something very rare given how close my stop is to the start of the line. Just as rare was the polite way the driver waited for me to take a seat at the back of the bus before proceeding. The more I ride, the more I appreciate the finer aspects of the service.

So it was something of a surprise when the bus driver got up and left the bus at the Watt and Marconi stop at 8:21 a.m.

The bus had just taken on a couple of regular riders when the driver left. He walked around the bus stop and through the gas station to the minimart. He opened the door and walked inside. A few moments later, he came out of the minimart with the key to the men's room next door. The driver unlocked the door and disappeared inside.

I've been riding Sacramento Regional Transit since February, and this is only the second time I've witnessed a driver taking an unscheduled break. (Here's the first time.) Since it was a pleasant morning and there were only six passengers, including me, it was more a puzzle than anything else. It certainly didn't appear to bother any of the other riders.

By 8:23 the driver had returned, and the bus was on its way. The No. 82 bus arrived at Watt and El Camino at 8:25 a.m., just a minute behind schedule. The bus was three minutes behind schedule at the CSUS stop, but that is well within what experience has taught me is the margin of error near the end of a long route. The full load of passengers the bus had taken on obviously had more to do with the timing of the stop than the driver's potty break.

I wouldn't want RT drivers to make a habit of unscheduled potty breaks, but what's the alternative when nature calls? In a previous lifetime, I was married to a woman who worked as a grocery checker when we met. I learned from her a certain appreciation of what it means not to be able to just go to the bathroom at the spur of the moment.

Of course, that was nearly 30 years ago, long before NASA made adult diapers an acceptable travel accessory.

5 comments:

Hearten Soul said...

I can picture this blog entry as the script for a "Depends" commercial!

John said...

Perhaps management and the union can negotiate a change in the uniform allowance to cover Depends.

Jon Q. RT Driver said...

Haha!

Generally, "facility" breaks as they are called are taken when we are on a layover. We all know that nature calls at the most random times. What is the driver to do? Some routes have a little room for wiggle and a stop at the mini mart for a potty break, you can easily make up 3-5 minutes on certain stretches of the route. I personally would not do it on a busy line during the commute hours, but if I *had* to I would.

At light rail, potty breaks are a learned discipline. Our choice is at Sunrise Station, Meadowview or inside the Amtrak Depot. I had a rare occasion where I could not wait until Amtrak, so I hopped off at 13th Street and ran into the office. I lost almost 5 minutes, but it was the first to last trip of the night and of course I got permission first. I made up 3 of those 5 minutes...no big deal.

John said...

You know. This is why potty-mouth radio show hosts do so well. A little potty talk and everyone wants to comment.

Carlos said...
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