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, October 17, 2007

The "beeping" bus

The No. 82 bus I take to work is never late.

Today it was late.

When the bus finally arrived, I boarded and took my customary seat in the first elevated row in the rear of the bus. The driver was talking on a phone. Since drivers don't normally chat with friends while driving the bus, the phone in the driver's hand was suspicious.

Eventually the driver put the phone away and drove to the next stop. The bus pulled to the curb, the doors opened and then everything went black.

Well, the lights went off inside the bus as the driver shut down the coach.

The driver was busy with stuff in front of him but he wasn't going to bother his passengers with the finer details of what was going on. Sort of like a doctor who is trained not to say "Oops!" during a surgery.

After more than one passenger inquired about the delay, the driver finally explained:

"We have an emergency flashing. If we don't correct it, we'll have fifteen thousand police surrounding us."
When a passenger suggested we could all participate in a re-creation of the movie "Speed," the driver said, "No, we don't want that."

The passengers were disappointed at the lost opportunity to make an exciting movie of their commute, but then the bus started and we were on our way, leaving the disappointment behind at the stop.

Then the bus went, "Beep-beep, beep-beep."

The driver's fingers responded with a choreographed sequence of pokes at the bus computer touchscreen.

In the early space explorations, animals were sent into orbit and monitored. In order to tell what effect the trip was having on the animal, they were trained to pull a certain lever when a light came on. If they answered correctly, they were rewarded with a treat.

The driver took his treat -- silencing the beeping bus -- and we continued on.

Back at the Sacramento Regional Transit's operations center, the progress of the bus and its driver were logged, and fifteen thousand police were told to stand down.


qofd said...

Dammit! That could have been one exciting ride!

John said...

It is fun to imagine the possible movie sequence of a bus required to go 55 mph while fifteen thousand police hover around it like a dark blue cloud.