THIS IS A PUBLIC INFORMATION POEM.

BUS DRIVERS HATE BEING LATE MORE THAN YOU WOULD EVER KNOW!

There, I’ve said it. If a camera was to follow me as a bus driver on any given day they would notice a certain change in my disposition between the times when I am running late from when I am running on time. When late, I start to notice how slow some people are to do the simplest of things…how they can wait ages for the (late) bus and then still not be ready when I turn up. I start to mutter things under my breath, roll my eyes and sigh deeply.

When I’m running on time, I’m like Andy James, ‘The Happy Busman’ (see The Frank & Walters video below) and I never run early*

The reason we hate being late is that every minute we are delayed cuts the same amount of time off our meal breaks or going home time. The next driver is waiting for the bus we are bringing in and that makes him late.

This is a poem written for my work colleagues…the lads and ladies that do their best to cope with traffic, narrow roads, tourists and tight timetables in this part of Cornwall. Forgive me the rant…and it is a rant but a rant I feel needs airing.

*and there’s another thing BUSES NEVER DELIBERATELY RUN EARLY…we can get sacked for doing that. Buses are under surveillance from the GPS system that also runs our clocks. It knows where we are at any given time and if you think our bus has run early it’s because you’re running to your watch and not our company’s clock. There are plenty of excuses for being late as the poem will explain but there is no excuse for running early

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YOU’RE LATE! (THE DRIVER’S RETURN)

 

An angry man, his face Routemaster red,

Gets on my bus and thrums like a diesel.

Swift to lay blame for my lateness, let’s hope

He’s prepared for my modest proposal.

 

“Ten minutes late and I want to know why!”

I say, “But won’t this just take up more time?

As I’m known as the bus driver poet…

Pin back your ears and I’ll tell you in rhyme.”

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

 

 

Breakdowns or traffic congestion aside;

From which we drivers you must exculpate.

It’s collective responsibility

That means it’s your fault – the public – I’m late!

 

You stand there before me guilty as charged,

But I’m not saying it’s your fault alone.

Here follows a list of transgressions which –

If you’re innocent then cast the first stone

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

 

 

Some ask if I will wait while they’re seated,

Then stand and chat to an old friend of theirs.

Others mutter that you’re ten minutes late

Then add on two more by struggling upstairs. (and back down)

 

Some stand with one foot placed on the platform;

Their pleading look is sweeter than violets.

Those already aboard inconvenienced

As we wait for their spouse in the toilets.

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

 

 

Some who just want to ask us a question

On tickets, destinations…even meals.

We do try our best as custodians

Of this information kiosk on wheels.

 

Some who choose to flag a passing bus down

To ascertain when the next one is due.

Exiting those lay-bys often takes time,

“Me let a bus out, you’re joking aren’t you?”

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

 

 

Some who are just not paying attention;

Lost in the Medusa gaze of their phone.

Come windmilling out at my passing bus…

I stop…they catch up…that’s more minutes blown!

 

Some turn up as you’re about to set off,

“That was good timing!” they say with a smile.

‘Not for me’, I muse, as they search their bags

And those lost seconds tick by all the while.

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

 

Some who’ve been patiently stood waiting then

Decide to rummage through bags when they board.

Some drunk, unable to find their return;

I wait as all avenues are explored.

 

Some try stalling for time in the hope that

Their free concession will come into play.

Thereby holding up those concessionees;

Folk who were perfectly willing to pay.

 

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

 

Doubtless at some point you’ve been culpable

And if not, then I’m Oliver Hardy.

You see all these minutes accumulate

And end up making buses so tardy.

 

Now I’ve no problem with all the above

Whereas you, as your demeanour infers,

Clearly can’t conceive why buses run late.

You’d be surprised how often it occurs.

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

 

 

 

As for the thought that we don’t give a toss;

Drivers hate tardiness more than you’d know.

A driver who’s late has let down his mate;

For there’s no bus when it’s their turn to go.

 

The way that I see it – people don’t mind

Our being late if it suits their purpose

For those that do, on behalf of us all

I present you with this magnum opus.

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

 

 

I remember a man much like you, sir;

Who on arriving late at the station,

Made a stand before an exiting bus

In a Tianmen Square re-creation.

 

For his safety’s sake that man was removed

The bus was now ten minutes overdue.

What did he care for those at the next stop?

The reason I ask is – that man was you.

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

 

 

 

It’s the driver’s job to balance these hopes;

To keep smiles on his passengers’ faces.

But you play your part and he can smile too

And it might get you quicker to places.

 

So think on the next time I turn up late

I might just need you to play to your best

In helping me get my bus back on time

And my nerve endings a little less stressed.

 

 

You can’t have it both ways

You want us to wait.

You can’t have it both ways

You don’t want us late.

© gray lightfoot

Here Gray read the poem here…

‘Happy Busman’ by The Frank and Walters