Long Beach California bus

Image courtesy of PublicTransport.About.com

Reflections of a Bus Driver, Part Two
| published March 6, 2015 |

By Michael Sigler
Thursday Review contributor

Here I am, back again with more amazing bus stories and my love/hate affair with the Los Angeles City bus service. For those who did not read my installment from last month, here’s the set up: once, back in the 1970s, long before I was a chef and author, I was schooled in the art and craft of driving buses in Los Angeles. Our training included long hours practicing maneuvers in the relative safety of the Los Angeles aqueduct. Later, most of my bus driving took place along the always colorful streets of LA, where anything could, and often would happen.

But this story concerns itself with one of the rare times I was actually able to take a run outside of Los Angeles proper. I found myself driving close to my home in the San Fernando Valley, a place where things at least seemed a step above normal. This day I would drive from one end of the valley to the other, ending up at the foot of the Northridge hills; in an area which now has sprawled way past those hills.

If there is one thing which has marked my journey through this life, it is my poor sense of direction, not a good quality if driving is your livelihood. I was to finish my route in Northridge, using what was called a ‘pull-in sheet’ to direct me back to the division. Somehow I had managed to get turned around, ending up in a cul-de-sac with a 40 foot bus. To my left side was the wash, my right side the houses.

Backing up a 40 foot bus is at best a difficult proposition, even in a wide space, but back at that tender age I reasoned I could effect a three point turn: backing the bus into an unsuspecting neighbor’s driveway, and then making my way out.

Miscalculating the whole thing, I ended up rolling off of the paved driveway and onto the person’s front lawn, back-end of the bus facing some poor soul’s plate glass window. That, in itself, would not have been an irreversible problem had it not been for the fact it had been raining. The oversized tires stuck quickly sank into the soggy, soft lawn while I frantically shifted into drive and gunned the engine, sending lawn and sod mixed with heavy black diesel fuel in an earthen shower.

At last I managed to free myself from the dilemma, leaving the lawn in shreds. Looking in my rearview mirror I saw the face of a very confused and concerned woman who, I am sure, would have a difficult time explaining to her husband what happened to the lawn and what a 40 foot city bus would have been doing camped out at the edge of Sunnybrook sub-division.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Reflections of a Bus Driver, Part One; Michael Sigler; Thursday Review; February 5, 2015.

The Hamburger: A Family Affair; Michael Sigler; Thursday Review; July 10, 2013.