18 September 2008

'Hail to the bus driver' or 'miracle on wheels'

| busbooster
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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 Minutes of anxious waiting, wishing I hadn’t just gone to the bank and withdrawn my life’s savings.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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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?


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.

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!!

Well said, sir!

We don’t hear enough positive stories like this.

No such karma for me at Dickson motor registry last week. I dropped my wallet in the car park and released about 30 seconds later, in which time the wallet had been handed in by someone who had helped themselves to $100 in cash.

Oh this is a great story 🙂

Karma will come the bus driver’s way for sure 🙂


tylersmayhem3:29 pm 18 Sep 08

I’d have asked to know who the bus driver was and rewarded him for being so honest.

Why the f**k should people have to be rewarded for being honest?! It’s simply the right thing to do. I’ve picked up the odd wallet or camera etc in my travels, and I always make sure it gets back to the owner. I’ve never been rewarded, and I’ve never expected one either.

GottaLoveCanberra2:27 pm 18 Sep 08

Why is it a waste?

I’d have asked to know who the bus driver was and rewarded him for being so honest.

I freaked out because my driver home yesterday was a little hot. 🙂 Spunky drivers make me think what a waste :p

tylersmayhem12:33 pm 18 Sep 08

@Loose Brown: awesome story! It’s great hearing things like that!

ant said :

I like to think that most people aren’t opportunistic thieves, but who do the riht thing as we were all brought up to do. It’s saddening that we might assume that our money will be stolen if someone has the chance to steal it, and I wonder if something’s happened to us in the past decade or so?

Yes, nobody stole anything in 1998…

I lost my phone on the bus a couple of mounths ago.
And, the driver found it (It fell out of my pocket..great..) (..probly because i got off at the last stop, come to think of it..), and managed to get it back to me the next day.

Yay for lost and found at action?? 🙂

I have this story, but I am terrible at writing stories so I will put in point form.

* I lost my wallet on an action bus.
* As soon as I got off I realised I had left my wallet there, so I called their 13 number and asked if there was anyway to get in contact with the bus and they told me that it was impossible and I would just have to call Lost & Found the next day.
* I got my wallet back from Action lost & found the next day sans cash.
* I remembered a girl from school was on my bus, so I asked her if she handed it in to the bus driver and if it had money inside. She told me she did and it did.
* I wrote a letter to Action telling them that I knew the person who handed the wallet to the bus driver and she said there was definately cash inside when she gave it to him.
* Action wrote me a fat cheque and said they would investigate it.

It was awesome.

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_they_all_copy10:09 am 18 Sep 08

A couple of months ago I found a sizable sum of cash when passing through Goulburn, just sitting there on the ground. Told the boss (wife), and we went and handed it in to the police station. To my amazement, a couple of weeks ago a cheque turns up from the NSW Police! No-one had come to claim it! I have to say, that if I lost that much cash, I definitely would have at least called the cop shop to see if it had been handed in.

Buy the man a case of beer!

I like to think that most people aren’t opportunistic thieves, but who do the riht thing as we were all brought up to do. It’s saddening that we might assume that our money will be stolen if someone has the chance to steal it, and I wonder if something’s happened to us in the past decade or so?

You’ve made my day busbooster.

Reminds me of another nice story. My old gran, travelling alone on an ACTION bus on a stinking hot christmas eve around lunchtime. The bus wound around through the streets until granny pushed the button and slowly walked up the aisle, laden with christmas presents. When she got to the driver, he asked, “Where are you walking to love?”
“Down the street a little.”
“Well just sit down and show me the way.”
Then he turned his bus off the route, and drove the extra kilometre and dropped granny at her front door. And he carried her pressies inside too.

High fives to that marvellous bus driver. Beer to him by all say I.

tylersmayhem9:07 am 18 Sep 08

It’s about more Canberran’s get out of their cars and start using the public transport – or better yet, hoping on a treddly and cycling to work. After moving back from overseas recently, it still surprises me how many people I see driving to work as single drivers in cars. Many people I work with drive less than 3Km to work! I do realise there are other reason’s I’m not considering (kids to drop at school etc), but surely there are more people who could and should commute. I think there are a few too many folk who are a little to precious to share their commuting space with other people.

Mind you, there are also plenty of drivers not prepared to share the road with cyclists either. My latest close call was this morning. What a wanker!

Fantastic ive been in the same situation usually mobile phones in taxis which usually always end in tears so its good to hear of a success getting your stuff back.

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