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‘Hail to the bus driver’ or ‘miracle on wheels’

By busbooster 18 September 2008 23

Benevolent elephantsCatching the bus yesterday, I was tired, my dreams were wearing thin.  Got off and went to buy deodorant at the shops.  No wallet!  Where’s my wallet?!  The stink of panic sets in.  I had used it to get on the bus, right?  It must still be on the bus, heading to Woden.  Straight home, on the phone and through to lost property.  No answer – drat.  Tried it again – success!  Helpfully, they said they would contact the interchange and call me back when the bus pulled in.  Minutes of anxious waiting, wishing I hadn’t just gone to the bank and withdrawn my life’s savings.  Phone rings, the bus driver has found it, he’s taking it to Belconnen, where I could pick it up tomorrow.  Is my money still in it?  He says he doesn’t know.  At least I can get my licence cards back, right?

Early this morning, with what might be my last $3 in the world, I get the bus to the city (a transfer, please) and on the 300 series.  At 7:45, we’re near Belconnen interchange, Wayne from lost property calls.  He’s got my wallet.  Is my money still in it?  We pull in.  There’s Wayne, there’s my wallet, the cash crisply inside.  It looks like even more than I withdrew yesterday.  What kind of a city is it when you can get your wallet back, with all the cash intact?  I could kiss him, but the plexiglass barrier keeps us apart.  I made sure he knew that he had made my day.  

The real hero of the story is the bus driver who not only found my wallet, but made the honest decision to hand it in intact.  He seemed pretty dour when I got on the bus, but it goes to show you never can tell (maybe he was tired too?).  I decided when I came back to Canberra last year not to get a car.  It’s been challenging, but rewarding too.  The service is almost always good, almost always on time.  Sometimes it starts to grate – putting up with the hard cases who need the bus even more than I do.  But the good parts more than make up for it – to do your bit by not having a car, to not have the hassle and expense of driving and parking, and to all the pretty girls who catch the bus.

I’m leaving Canberra again, so to all those great bus drivers out there, thanks for the ride!

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23 Responses to
‘Hail to the bus driver’ or ‘miracle on wheels’
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Aubergine 11:20 am 22 Sep 08

Just wondering. Many years ago I lived in Sydney and occasionally caught buses. I never, ever, heard anybody say “thankyou” to the driver as they got off. Here nearly everyone says it every time, and of course I say it too. Is this just a Canberra thing?

I reckon the drivers here are almost uniformly excellent. There’s the odd grump who never responds when you say “hi” as you board; most do. Countless times I’ve seen them wait or even back up when they’ve seen someone running late towards the bus stop. It just seems to be an extra level of courtesy and civil behaviour here.

Only once have I literally been in fear of my life on a Canberra bus. It was a rainy winter evening maybe seven years ago. The bus from Woden to Weston was heading along Devonport St in Lyons when it came up to that stupid “intersection to nowhere” with Heysen St. The driver wasn’t paying attention and we didn’t even slow down – he suddenly jammed on the brakes and we slid straight ahead towards the dead end sign. Stopped just before the end of the road. As he wiped the sweat from his brow and put the bus into reverse, I got up and went up to the front and said “Do you wanna think about maybe slowing down a bit in the rain?” and he mumbled “yeah, OK” and we crawled the rest of the way home. Scary. That corner’s still the same by the way – why in God’s name don’t they get rid of the traffic islands and make it a plain 90 degree corner?

Lafan 4:59 pm 20 Sep 08


1. There are cameras on the bus.

2. Their are more good people in the world than bad

3. I always hand lost property in, intact with money.

nicolae 9:38 am 19 Sep 08

I agree with Tylersmayhem – honesty (and the owner’s thanks) is its own reward. About 10 years ago I was with someone who left his bag (with passport, wallet etc) in a taxi as he got out at Singapore airport. After us spending 20 minutes furiously working on Plan B, the taxi driver turned up again with the wallet. He had ended his shift, gone home, started to clean the taxi, found the wallet and come back. We were grateful beyond description and thanked him a million times. We didn’t give him any of the money that was still in the wallet. On returning home and telling this story some of my friends berated us for not giving the guy a ‘tip’. To be honest it never occurred to me – at the time I totally saw it as an act of kindness and decency on the driver’s part, not something that needed instant cash payment. I still see it that way. Personally, if I returned a wallet and was offered money I’d kind of see it as negating the act itself – as if I had been honest out of self interest rather than out of wanting to do the right thing. Having said that, giving a gift to show gratitude is also pretty nice (which is what GottaLoveCanberra probably meant) – as is posting the story on RiotAct!!

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