The bus driver job seemed like a perfect for for John. In his old careers, working food service or retail, he often came home exhausted, with little time and less energy to read books or think big thoughts–his favorite things to do since high school, even if he fully acknowledged that the thoughts rarely, if ever, went anyplace.

But sitting in a seat all day, with a predictable route that he’d have memorized in a few weeks, and in a college town besides? It wasn’t just a break from being on his feet all day, it was an opportunity to think deep thoughts, to ponder the mysteries of the universe from the safety and warmth of a mobile office. Maybe even have an occasional chat with the students and teachers, a chance to learn and be learnt from.

John started his new career by getting up a little early and reading thought-provoking articles in order to provide some kindling for his mental fire. He practically sashayed in the door his first real day on the job after training, singing into the padded and shock-absorbing seat with an audible sigh.

It wasn’t the last time he’d sigh on the job.

While John was right that he’d have his usual route memorized inside of a week, he was constantly pulled off of it to fill in for others, often after just enough time had passed for him to forget the old route. Worse, the students in town drove like maniacs, secure behind the wheels of vehicles their parents bought and could replace. This made even the usual route a gauntlet fraught with peril, even after John had gotten practice under his belt.

And no one wanted to talk. The students, the teachers…they were in the middle of their own conversations or radiated sullen, exhausted silence. The geometry of the cab was such that it was nigh impossible to say anything to anyone, even when they were the rare rider trying to pay a fare instead of flashing a student ID.

John soon found that the job required too little mental acuity to satisfy his wandering mind, but just enough to keep it from wandering. And while he no longer came home physically exhausted, he now was mentally beat after each shift and stiff as a board to boot–hardly ready to read or do much of anything other than slurp down dinner and go to bed.

If bus driving really was a dream job for big thinkers, John ruefully reflected on morning as he stared at his diesel steed, a bunch of rich men would do it for fun.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!