Image is everything when you’re behind the wheel
It can strike at any time. One moment you’re sailing along wrapped up in the routine of your life, the next minute all your assumptions are in disarray.
I’d just finished my workout at the gym and I’m in my normal mode of waiting for the light to change so I can make a left turn. A big tour bus approaches the intersection, the driver stoically at the wheel. Suddenly, it hits me. Not the bus, but an odd thought strikes me just as the bus goes by my window.
How come bus drivers get the short end of the stick when it comes to charisma? How come truck drivers have all the mystique? First of all, I have no personal stake in the economic viability of either. I have no relatives in either field. So let me say I come to this point of view from a neutral position.
The question? Which driver evokes the more compelling image. Truck drivers, right! The sentinel of the open road. The strapping, gruff, but ultimately heroic figure who rumbles over the distant hilltop to save the day or, sometimes, the night.
Bus drivers on the other hand, as far as I can tell, evoke little passion. They seem no more than a shapeless uniform with tourists attached! Little more than a blow-up doll in the driver’s seat. I’m right, aren’t I? I’m sure there are women out there who imagine rumbling off to places unknown with a truck driver. On the other hand, I can’t see that same woman picking out the aisle seat in the front row of a Greyhound to be near a bus driver. So what’s the problem?
Bus drivers carry valuable cargo, don’t they? Bus loads of humans have to be worth more than a truckload of unidentifiable widgets. They both have to drive huge vehicles that are hard to maneuver. Bus drivers must concern themselves with frail old ladies, screaming infants, and obstinate teenagers.
Do truck drivers ever have to communicate with their cargo? Is Psychology 101 needed for cases of beer or a truckload of dead trees. Not much in social skills there. So why do truck drivers get the glory?
In the movies, truck drivers are always just coming over the next rise to save the day. I can’t name them all but we all know those movies. On the other hand, how many movies can you name where there is a heroic bus driver?
“Speed” — but if I remember correctly, the original driver was long gone by the time Keanu Reeves showed up. That poor driver obviously didn’t have sufficient mettle to operate the bus even 5 miles over the normal speed limit, did he? He had his chance and was discarded like a used bus pass. Why is that?
I am sure a lot this has to do with some screenwriter’s ability to write a good story. On the other hand, we somehow have to accept that story. We still have to accept that fictional character into our minds.
So who cares anyway? Why does this matter! Honestly I don’t care if the truck drivers get the glory, although it would be nice if bus drivers got a little more respect.
The thought that’s really on my mind is how I arrived at the idea in the first place. It just amazes me what associations our minds can dream up. I think we’re always trying to figure out what’s important and what’s not. The world is such a baffling place we need to be able to sort through ideas even if they seem a little odd.
Once in a while we have to free our mind to come up with whatever it wants. It helps to relieve the stress and anxiety of everyday life. I think it’s a good thing to go off on a tangent once in a while. It’s also a good thing your boss can’t see your mind as it spirals off into the atmosphere.
One last thing! Don’t be doing this when the light turns green. I don’t want to have to blast my horn at you.
— Lincoln Moy is a graphic artist at the Tahoe Tribune. Off Beat is a column written by Tribune employees whenever they feel like it.
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