MaitiesLand…

Bus number 184 defected for faulty brakes notes the mechanic. Let’s just take a look see here… Oh yep, I see what’s wrong… old damn bus drivers who don’t know a bloody thing about mechanics and only defect their Bus so they don’t have to clean and stow it away for night.

He phones and informs the traffic control office that Bus 184 can be put on the road. ‘I gave it the once over and all should run fine now.’

He hadn’t given the bus the once over as he had told the TC because, ‘Nine times out of ten there is nothing wrong with them,’  he thought to himself.

The mechanic watched bus 184 leave the bay and put on row, then repeated the same action on bus 173.

When John arrived for the second half of his shift, he was given bus 184. He took it, carefully checking the brakes before leaving the yard and he noted that they were little spongy but John knew if he returned to the yard, the bus would just be given to another driver who would most likely just put up with it.

No thought John, ‘It’s better to do a few runs and if the brakes worsen during the day, I’ll just pull over and have the slack mechanics bring out a replacement bus, and then they will be forced to make repairs.’

Around 4pm John did just that, it was coming into peak hour and the brakes were just too badly degraded to be carting about sixty people through town. The stopping distance required with good brakes is long enough with a full load, but throw in the weight of sixty people and set a bad brakes and the bus could just end up hanging over the edge of the Guildford Bridge.

An angry mechanic pulled up not 15 minutes after John radioed through about the soft brakes. Being that peak hour was almost upon us, the mechanic would have been made to get to the bus as quick as he could. John knew that a mechanic would only drive a more reliable bus out to him. ‘What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander, if the gander is bus mechanic,’ John laughingly thought to himself.

Bus 87 was a nice bus, it is one of the older ones and John could drive with the door open and feel the breeze of his face. The newer models are all enclosed; no windows open and usually the air-conditioning didn’t work. So John felt a little better with the cool breeze helping him to stay awake. He pulled up nice and close to the verge to pick up his favourite passenger, stop 71, Warrik Road. She looked lovely today. Her hair was tied back revealing her beautiful face and she had on a lovely summer frock with sensible sandals on her tiny feet and a light, short sleeved floral jacket. Just perfect thought John. He didn’t even register the 5 or so passengers who got on the bus at the same time as her. John did not move the bus until stop 71 was in her seat.

Having a little chuckle to himself as he began to drive away, John knew that stop 72 was next and there he was, he could see stop 72 in the distance waiting impatiently for the bus. ‘Not because it is john’s bus, no, no, no, no,’ thought John, ‘but because stop 71 was already on board, in her usual seat.’

John thought of stop 72 as he would a cat toy. Tease him with the toy and just before he can grab it, pull it away. As the bus pulled up to stop 72, John made sure that there was a foot or three between the bus and the verge. Stop 72 boarded, swiped his bus pass and began the walk through a crowd of people to try and find a space close to stop 71 and John didn’t make that walk easy for him, he began to move away from the stop with a slight tap on the accelerator, then a quick touch on the brake, then the accelerator again. It always made his day to watch stop 72 sway from side to side, in and out of the arm pits of complete strangers until he found his spot.

Stop 71 and 72 are John’s favourite stops, there’s a romance budding there and apparently only John can see it blooming. Stop 72 presses the bell as he does every day, he looks up at John to make sure he is able to hear the bell amongst pod casts, YouTube vids and mobile phone calls, and gets the obligatory nod from John in the rear vision mirror. John begins his normal pot hole and divot manoeuvres as stop 72 approaches stop 71’s seat. 71 looks up and smiles at 72, as she always does lately and 72 smiles back. But John is not the only person on that bus today who has noticed the budding romance of 71 and 72, there was another and this person has been putting together a video diary concerning, ‘A Bus Journey to Love, by Arron Maitland.’

This is where things go quite badly for John… and 72 in the short run.

Arron was videoing the play between driver, 71 and 72. Each afternoon Arron has videoed 72’s awkward trip down the aisle, courtesy of John, and 72’s glances and smiles at 71. He videos 72’s bell press, the exchange of views in the drivers mirror and John’s nod of assent. Filming all this, Arron also knows that the bumps and sways that the bus begins to experience moving closer to stop 83, are due to deliberate foot play by the driver. Today however, Arron filmed more than he bargained for, but was extremely glad that he did because he is an opportunist and he makes money off of people’s misery and misfortunes, as well as their love he hoped.

As stop 72 reached stop 71’s seat, he smiled down at her and she caught his smile as she looked up, when 72 held onto the hand support attached to her seat, before moving it to the hand rail at the back doors. The doors began to open as the bus was coming to a stop, but the bus hit a row of corrugations and 72’s normally awkward exit from the bus became a viral sensation for Arron Maitland, with the YouTube handle: MaitiesLand. MaitiesLand captured 72’s fall and slide out of the bus and everything else too. Even the part where John sat down on the grass fearing he was going to have a heart attack.

MaitiesLand video got it all. He got the footage of 71 and 72 finally coming together, he got the footage of John’s revelation of, ‘I’m just too old, too tired to play this game anymore.’

Then he cut the footage to end his video with 71 and 72 helping John to the bus and of 71 helping the limping 72 home.

It didn’t matter that John quit his job after the incident, what mattered was MaitiesLand viral video Journal, with an unedited copy of the incident making its way too many news outlets. Arron was making a bit of money and a lot of fame, and the media were lapping it up.

They revealed a shy young man tormented by love and a cruel bus driver thwarting that love at every turn, and each news outlet concluded with john saying, ‘I’m just too old, too tired to play this game anymore.’

John had to be called back to the depot to talk to their lawyers. Stop 72, Steven East did not want to take it to court; he just wanted it to stop. Steven did not contact the company; the video ensured that they had to find him and try to rectify what had happened. Steven told the lawyers that he did not want to sue, he was happy with his new girlfriend Tottie but that they have had to take later buses now due to MaitiesLand viral video.

‘We are now infamous heroes, everybody has an opinion about Tottie and myself, we just want it to stop.’

The lawyers, the company, John, Steven and Tottie came to an agreement. A small sum of money was given to both Steven and Tottie in exchange for their continued silence about the situation, this was non negotiable.

The company organised a company car to pick both 71 and 72 up morning and night so that their lives could gain some normality again, and the hope that MaitiesLand viral video would die a natural death. John had already quit his job and his union rep ensured that Johns incident was looked at on a larger scale within the industry itself, concerning drivers not receiving the right amount of rest time between runs, and the mechanical upkeep of the buses was to be taken more seriously.

72, I mean Steven got a little bruised and scraped, but he got the girl. Tottie, stop 71, got her man and they both became great friends to john and Margret. John’s incident could have been a lot worse than it was and it has helped to bring about much needed change in the Bus industry, Margret has seen to that.

Two weeks after MaitiesLand video went viral; Arron was captured on CCTV putting large tacks on the roads of bus routes late at night, trying to cause another MaitiesLand viral video. Well he went viral alright and he was charged. John’s incident was dropped and Arron’s late night antics made sure that many people think that he had set up the entire incident on John’s bus.

How many zones?

Pulling up to another stop, the tired aging Bus driver inwardly groans at the thought of picking up another fare, because that’s all people have become to him, just another fare. He’s pretty sure that he said ‘how many zones’ the other morning, after 3 hours of sleep, when his wife climbed into the car. She looked concerned. Her hazel eyes seemed to absorb her husband’s lamenting and she really was worried.

Margret works in the office of the same bus company as her husband and she was becoming increasingly concerned for many of the drivers, so much so, that Margret got in contact with her union and filled them in on the dangerous situation that was back building. Almost every day, a driver on a split shift has knocked of the drivers mirror on a set of street lights, or scraped the side of the bus along the metal barriers that skirt the highways. Margret knew that it was only a matter of time before a driver fell asleep at the wheel longer than a few seconds. The driver would not only harm himself, but also his passengers.

The highlight of John MacDonald’s working day was stop 71, Warrik Road. The pretty young woman who always got onto his bus reminded him of his granddaughter. The first time he saw her Chestnut brown, flowing hair, he felt quite protective of her. She was always safe on his bus. Today as he pulled into her stop, his bleary eyes turned into smiling eyes and his tiredness all but forgotten. She always dressed in very nice, yet sensible shoes, her skirts always dropped just below the knees and if she wore pants, they were never tight. Summer or winter, she always wore a nice blouse with either a light or heavy jacket. Every time she climbed the steps of the bus John would ask ‘how many zones?’ and she would reply with a smile her usual, ‘two please’. ‘Such a nice young lady’ thought John as she made her way to her normal seat.

At stop number 72 Warrik Road John picked up ‘a nice enough young man’ he thought, but John instinctively knew that he has designs on his stop 71 passenger. Each afternoon John watched the young fella stroll down the aisle with a ‘hey, I’d like to get to know you look’ on his face and everyday John made sure that the bus went over every pot hole or divot he could find in the road, just to make the young fellas attempts just that little bit harder. ‘If he wants to date my granddaughter’ john thought ‘then he can bloody well work hard for it.

Today however, John was at the end of a 60 hour week; his reflexes were a little off. Stop 72 pressed the bell indicating to John that he was getting off at stop 83. John acknowledged stop 72’s intent and ran slowly through each pot hole and divot, it was a ritual that they had all come to know. However, today is a special day as it had rained earlier and there were also some corrugations lining the edge of the road too. Crawling closer to stop 83, John noticed that his granddaughter, by proxy, smiled at the young fella. In an effort to stop 72 approaching her in her seat, John lightly touched the brakes ensuring that stop 72 had to take hold of the low hanging belts to steady himself.

Holding tight to the belts overhead, stop 72 looked to stop 71 and smiled. He began his last few steps to the rear automatic doors that had opened in line with stop 71’s seat. As stop 72 took his final step to the lip of the stairwell, John’s foot slipped on the brake bringing the bus to a sudden stop and a brief acceleration before braking again. In the ensuing melee, stop 72’s right leg slid down the short stairwell, twisting and scraping his left leg on the metal strips lining each step before stop 72 fell out the door onto the damp grass. Bruised and shaken, 72 started to pick himself up of the ground, 71 was out of her seat assisting him and John locked the bus driver’s cabin and raced as quick as he could to make sure 72 was OK.

Stop 71 and 72 had finally met, sure, 72 was feeling rather embarrassed at his tumble, but 71, who always disembarked at stop 84, offered to walk 72 home. He accepted.

John was frazzled, he thought that he was going to have a heart attack. After making sure 72 was OK, John sat down on the damp grass and began to re-evaluate his life. 71 and 72 were making sure that John was alright by this time and they sat with him for a moment while he gathered his thoughts. ‘Im just too old, too tired to play this game anymore’ John said to them. ‘I think today is the last time I shall see you both, but let me leave you with this small piece of advice; don’t allow your life to become your job. ‘I need to go home now’ john thought to himself as he stood up, with 71 and 72’s help. They walked him back to the drivers cabin, and 71 said that her daily trips wouldn’t be same without him. Then she turned and put her arm around 72 and walked him home.

Being that this was his last run for the day, John drove straight back to depot. Margret was waiting for him. As they met up, John told Margret all about his day, he concluded with ‘I am quitting my job today Marge’s, I’m too old and to tired. I could have killed that young fella today, I hope you understand?’ Margret looked deeply into Johns green eyes and she could see that he meant what he was saying. She hugged him and finally spoke. ‘Then I hope you will understand that I have just become the delegate for the depot and I have been working with the union all day on ways to make driving safer for the drivers and their passengers.

It was Johns turn to hug Margret. ‘I couldn’t be more pleased my Marge’s and maybe I can help you with some insider knowledge…?’ ‘Look at us, 50 years together, at work and at home, and I love you just as much today as I did when I first saw you walk though those doors over there, let’s go home Marge, let’s go home… I need to sleep for a week or two now’ said John. They hugged and walked hand in hand to the car. Margret looked at John and said ‘now maybe I can just be your wife and friend and not just another passenger on your Bus’. ‘That’s alright by me said John, alright by me.’