Excuse me, driver… What on earth are you wearing on your head?!

So anyway, readers, I have been doing night shift, lately, at my own request. There are many reasons I love night shift in Canberra on the buses and some are as follows…

  • I get to sleep in
  • There is less traffic on the road
  • There are less people  on the buses
  • I get to sleep in
  • It is dark so I don’t get dazzled by sunlight
  • It is dark so I don’t get sunburned
  • I get to sleep in
  • I usually get to drive one of the nice buses on night shift
  • When it’s hot, I’m in the air conditioning, and by the time I get home the weather has usually cooled down to a sleepable temperature
  • When it’s cold, I’m in lovely heating without having to pay the gas or electric bill for the privilege
  • I get to sleep in
  • I don’t have to go to work twice a day, as I would on a split shift
  • I can go to the shops, bank, post office etc  and they are not crowded
  • I can catch up with my friends in the daytime
  • I get almost the whole day to see my husband on his day off
  • I get to sleep in
  • Minimal school brats runs
  • NO morning zombies commuters
  • And did I mention that I get to sleep in? Well, at least when insomnia is not having it’s wicked way with me.

 

One of the "nice" buses I would get to drive on night shift.

One of the “nice” buses I might get to drive on night shift.

So there you have it.  Anyway, readers, me doing night shift meant that I was out on the road at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Now, normally one would groan inwardly and have a bit of a bitch about working on New Year’s Eve when one could be partying the night away. Well, over the years, I have had a grand total of three good New Year’s Eves and have come to realise that midnight on December 31st is actually the anticlimax of the year.

The first excellent New Year’s Eve I had was about twenty years ago when I was at a really dull party. I left it pretty quickly and headed off to my favourite band venue, The Tallebudgera Playroom, to see The Angels play.  I was there by myself and had a blast. At one stage I was in a huge circle of guys, arms around the next person’s shoulders, jumping up and down in time to “Let The Night Roll On”.  The venue did a balloon drop, whereby prize vouchers were stuffed into balloons, and the balloons were dropped on the crowd, caught, popped, and the vouchers redeemed. One of the prizes was a Harley Davidson motorbike. Then when midnight arrived, rather than everything stopping, the party just got wilder with The Angels cranking out a rocking version of Old Lang Syne, and everyone was hugging everyone else. It was a wonderful atmosphere.

 

A very large balloon drop.  The Playroom was a lot smaller than this, but no less fun.

A very large balloon drop. The Playroom was a lot smaller than this, but no less fun.

The second excellent New Year’s Eve I had was about ten or more years back when I went to visit a friend in a remote country town called Chinchilla.  This friend was a wheelchair bound farmer who was just amazing.  There was NOTHING he couldn’t do – except he did admit that changing light bulbs was a bit of a challenge.  He drove a manual 4WD around his property, depressing the clutch with a broomstick and steering AND changing gears all at the same time.  He had only just moved into this particular house and had not built a ramp, so managed to negotiate the steps by sitting on the bottom step, pushing himself up each step one by one, then reaching down and hauling his chair up the steps after himself. When I asked him if that didn’t piss him off, he drawled “Ahhh it only takes five minutes”.  That New Year’s Eve was seen in sitting on his verandah, dogs at our feet, drinking cold beers. It was just wonderful.

 

John on New Year's Eve on his verandah at his farmhouse in Chinchilla, out Woop Woop.

John on New Year’s Eve on his verandah at his farmhouse in Chinchilla, out Woop Woop.

And the third excellent New Year’s Eve I had was just at the end of 2013 when I worked all the way until just after midnight.  I had decided that since I was working, readers, I would ham it up and wear my best party finery.  I headed off to The Reject Shop and secured myself a $5 gold sequined trilby, some glow in the dark wrist bands, and a packet of party honkers (not sure of the exact name, but you blow into a whistle like part, and the rest of it unfurls making a honking noise).  I put a few sparkly stars on my face, put my best party makeup on, and also had a silver starburst decoration that I put above my head in the bus.  Kind of like a faux firework, if you will.   I was driving in and out of the city so I was guaranteed to get a few people on the bus.  The first trip was rather quiet but after that things just got busier and busier.

 

Me trying to master the art of "selfies" and failing miserably, but you get the gist.

Me trying to master the art of “selfies” and failing miserably, but you get the gist.  Also, that blue thing in my mouth is what I’m referring to as a “honker” or “hooter”.

At one stage I had a full standing load of passengers, and I honked at them and greeted them with a big smile every time someone got on. They loved it.  I dropped them all off into the city and went on my merry way.  Then on my return trip, I arrived at the city just after 9pm when the first fireworks display had just ended. I had loads of families getting on the bus, heading south. A few kids excitedly told me about the fireworks when I asked how they were. One little girl in particular was very polite and wished me a happy New Year when she got off the bus.  I honked at her and gave her a big smile in return.

 

We have some staff members called Transport Officers (or something – I usually refer to them as those blokes who wear the yellow and orange vests who are standing around smoking and drinking coffee…) who were supervising the main interchanges.  When I pulled up at Tuggeranong, one of the southernmost interchanges, a couple of TOs were there supervising the hoard of passengers who boarded.  I flipped the door open, tipped my sparkly hat at then and blew my honker at them, and gave them both one, too, which they were very impressed with.  I got a good laugh out of them and my passengers. Upon returning to the depot I was told that they honked at the other drivers and their passengers when they pulled into the interchanges, too.

My last trip was through the city at about 11.30pm and I did pick up a number of passengers.  I started off with maybe 30 passengers and slowly dropped them off as I went.  As midnight, and the last two stops, rapidly approached, I was down to about 10 or 15 passengers.  I had the radio on as they had a pretty good party mix going for the evening. Then, two minutes before midnight, the radio DJ started getting very excited and I was very, very close to the final stop. I slowed the bus right down so that I would still have a few passengers on for the next couple of minutes. Finally, at twenty seconds out, and with about ten passengers remaining, I yelled out “WHO’s GONNA HELP ME COUNT DOWN?” I had their attention and the radio started counting down so I started yelling out “NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN” at this point they all joined in… “SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!” The radio started playing Auld Lang Syne, and I started hooting on my honker for all I was worth, and the passengers were cheering.  I then pulled up at the last stop, dropped them all off and went home.  What a fun night I had, and no hangover to boot.  How did you bring in the new year?

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

6 thoughts on “Excuse me, driver… What on earth are you wearing on your head?!

  1. I was at my parents’ place and I fell asleep while my kids stayed up.
    Ah memories of The Angels playing on a Saturday evening at Noosa when I was a teenager.
    I liked night shifts in the hospital because it was quiet and I could speak with the nurses.

  2. Sounds like a lot of fun. I think bus driving can often be a thankless job, but with bus drivers like you I’m sure more and more people will send in letters of thanks (or is that tweets maybe, or facebook likes?) :P
    Happy new year :)

  3. Man, you’ve had way better New Year’s Eves than I have. I don’t think I could remember three if I tried. How fun for you! And I take it you like sleeping in…

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