The buses in Guyana are intimate. You climb on board, you greet the other passengers, you cram into a seat next to a few strangers and, because there’s nothing else you can do, you embrace the hip contact. The buses look more like mini-vans than they do actual buses. For the most part, when you board, a conductor opens the sliding door and you cram into the back of the bus. But, if you’re lucky, sometimes the front seat is open and you’re given the option of opening your own door and sliding into the seat next to the driver. I love it when this happens. It means that you get a little extra leg and hip room. It also means that when you’re ready to get off of the bus, you just have to turn your head to the driver and state where you’d like to get off—you get to avoid screaming to the conductor over the loud music in the back of the bus. “LET ME OFF AT THE POST OFFICE!”
My favorite driver drives a 44 bus through the village that I work in up the coast in the afternoons. If I’m lucky, he happens to drive by when I’m waiting at the corner where the buses turn off of the public road. Today, I was fortunate enough to climb into the front seat of the bus and was pleasantly surprised to see he was driving the bus. What do I like him so much? Let me list the reasons.
He doesn’t blast the music in his bus, he keeps the volume at a respectable level and adjusts it according to the amount of sound being generated by the wind coming in through the windows. The music in the buses is continually a problem; many of the drivers and conductors blast the music so loud that it’s hard for the passengers to get their attention when they need to get off of the bus. This driver that I like is also courteous enough to turn the music down and call out to whole bus whenever there is a “popular” drop off point approaching. “Hey, anyone for the gas station?” He then adjusts the music back to an appropriate level.
I also appreciate that he isn’t an aggressive driver. I can tell, just from riding with him twice, that he isn’t “trying to be somebody.” He doesn’t dress like some of the other drivers and conductors. He doesn’t try to look cool. He doesn’t deck out his bus to make it look like a high school prom with a strange theme. He dresses nicely, but he wears sneakers, to better hit the freakin’ brakes—this is SO appreciated by me. I like a driver who is well acquainted with the brake pedal, considering how many drivers here like the gas pedal.
He doesn’t honk when he doesn’t have to. In Guyana, drivers honk at everything. They honk at everything. EVERYTHING! I swear, more often than not, drivers will honk just because they’re bored. It.Is.Obnoxious. But my favorite driver doesn’t do that. In my latest drive with him he only honked once, to let another driver know that it wasn’t safe for them to move over into our lane.
My favorite driver also navigates the streetlights in an appropriate matter. He can get us through a yellow light without risking our lives. On the flip side, he also isn’t afraid to keep good time, ensuring we don’t get stuck at a red light for too long.
I’m posting this blog to honor a random man whose name I don’t know, whose name I will never know. I’m sending him a little love by dumping this tribute to him into the cosmos. Thanks for the rides, friend.