Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Blog Review: Drives In Circles

Photo by Jared Davidson
(Creative Commons)

This is one of the most interesting and original blogs from a local resident that I have read.  Written by an OC Transpo driver, the blog describes what it's like to be behind the wheel of a city bus.  What struck me about the site, however, is the writing, which comes across more as a collection of literary short stories than a traditional set of musings.  One recent post that particularly caught my eye was on how bus drivers are losing their connection to the city.  In the past, the post explained, drivers would be part of a specific neighbourhood, as they drove the same people day in and day out.  In contrast, today's drivers move from route to route across the city, with the result that drivers have a lot harder time building connections with customers.  Nevertheless, our blogging driver reveals that he still gets Christmas presents from clients.

A different post contained vivid descriptions of driving a bus in a snowstorm, while another explained what it's like to deal with drunks who think that their bank card is their Presto card.  Then there are the thoughts about the last bus strike, which left many transit commuters in the city bitter, including me.  After reading what it's really like to drive a bus, however, I was left with a different impression of city bus drivers.  (I must admit that I was one of the many people in Ottawa who were enraged when the strike took place).

Thanks to this blog I learned about some of the challenges in driving a bus.  Being a bus driver is more than just handling a steering wheel, I now realize, for it also includes a huge customer relations component, from stopping people who are trying to get a free ride, to answering countless questions about directions, to helping the elderly, to handling customers who are drunk and/or high.

One sign of great writing is that it takes you to a place where you normally don't visit and allows you to walk in someone else's shoes.  This blog definitely does that.  With great storytelling and writing it reveals a part of the city that I normally don't see.

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