I ride TriMet buses many times every week, at various times and on various lines. Typically, I get on the bus, the driver nods when I show that my fare is paid, and that’s the end of our interaction.
Yesterday was different. Three times.
Trip #1. It started out as a normal morning rush-hour commute to downtown, but then the driver missed a turn. It happened in a part of southwest Portland where there are no other turn-offs for a considerable distance. My fellow passengers became alarmed and started murmuring concerns about getting to work on time. But a moment later, the bus driver made an announcement over the loudspeaker in a clear, resonant voice: “Well, we missed a turn. But we’ll get back on track real soon.” His soothing tone instantly vanquished all the anxiety. When the bus arrived downtown, nearly everyone getting off complimented the driver: Nice work! Great job! Thanks for getting us here on time! Good recovery, man!
Trip #2. Mid-morning I waited near City Hall to catch a bus going across the river. A bus arrived, but only to let off its sole passenger because it was headed to the garage. I told the driver I was only going across the bridge but I could wait for the next bus, and he said, “I’ll take you, hop on.” He didn’t need to do that, it was just a kindness and courtesy that saved me some waiting time.
Trip #3. Mid-day I was in southeast Portland and hopped on a bus to go back downtown. As we approached the Hawthorne Bridge to cross the Willamette River, the bus driver made an announcement: “The bridge is is up. That means it’s time for a bridge song.” So while we waited for a big tugboat to make its way downriver, she graced the passengers with a rendition of The Birth of the Blues that brought tears to some eyes. As the bus started moving again, I felt renewed by the unexpected gift of music.
I didn’t catch any of these drivers’ names. But luckily I have this bus blog to say, thank you all!