Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Psycho Paddy And The Dirty Red Lights: A Bus Driver's Guide To Saving Face

The other driver I was with is a good bloke. He is a great driver, never gets flustered and quietly does his job. As we sat at the Service station, drinking our Costa coffee, we unwound by discussing the icy roads, the near misses and the times we had been genuinely frightened by other drivers when on two man jobs and sharing the driving.

"He never saw the red light as we were driving through this French town," he said, laughing now, but obviously not at the time. "I didn't want to alarm the passengers, when I saw that he wasn't slowing down....'red light' I said quietly....red light....light over there is red....RED light....RED LIGHT....RED....OVER THERE....STOP!!"

But it was too late and the bus carried on. A car which was minding its own business, legally proceeding on green, had to brake furiously as a bus flew in front of him. In true Gallic fashion, there was plenty of horn blowing, verbal abuse and exposing of the middle finger.

"Do you know what he said as an excuse for shooting a red light? He said he couldn't see the red light as it was....dirty. Dirty? I ask you. Anyway there was another of our buses following and it had to jump the lights too, otherwise they would have got lost."

There was another driver who would frighten the living daylights out of other colleagues. Psycho Patrick was an excellent driver but took risks. He was known as Psycho Paddy for his appalling antics which always came after losing his temper. Boy, did he have a quick temper. He terrified another driver once by coming down a mountain road in the Alps and seeing a roundabout at the bottom, he accelerated rather than breaked.

"I shut my eyes," said the other driver. "I thought - this was it. I am going to die." But as the bus went sweetly over the roundabout, Psycho Paddy lost his temper when he saw the quivering wreck of a driver holding his hands over his eyes. He could not understand what the fuss was all about.

Bus driver mentality is very similar to the Asian habit of 'saving face'. They do not like others seeing a possible chink in their armour. I know - you have seen it and read about the times I crunch the buses. I always want to play it down and hope it will disappear, leaving a remnant of a tarnished reputation to rebuild.

'Wants the horse to be good and at the same time want the horse not to eat hay' (a Chinese proverb). Or in other words....nobody's perfect.

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