Keeping in touch with your body's needs and changes is imperative if you plan on living past this career. I've not gained any weight since I began driving a bus. In fact, I've beaten the odds and actually lost some extra pounds. The methodology however, isn't as healthy as my weight maintenance stats sound. There are many factors which determine this outcome. First, I just don't eat as much as I once did. I'm not a kid any more, and my portions are smaller I believe, because my metabolism is slower. While it does take physical energy to drive a bus, now that I'm a few years into it, my body is acclimated to the job. My diet consists of a hearty breakfast, several snacks during my route, then dinner when I get home. I found that if I eat a meal in the middle of my shift, I tend to get sleepy. This is not an ideal state when you're operating a 20-ton vehicle with precious cargo aboard. So I eat nuts or chips as my body asks for fuel. I drink copious amounts of water, and I bring soda along too. Sure, it's not the healthiest of diets. But it works for me. When I'm hungry, I eat. If things work right, I get enough fuel every day. Hopefully I burn as much as ingest. After I've been home a few hours, I strap on the snore inhibitor and snooze for nine hours before I rinse and repeat.
I sign runs for about 10 hours a day. Anything more is too demanding. Already middle-aged when I signed on, it's important to pace myself. Years on the Extra Board added to the aging process. Other than that, the word "time" is broken down into "runs." One run, from one end to the other, takes "x" amount of time. I know the route is just over three round trips. The run is broken down into "time points." These are geographical locations along a route where the transit agency expects us to arrive as close to "on time" as possible. Between these points, I'm oblivious as to the actual time of day unless someone asks me. If you do a run long enough, you can pretty much tell someone what the time of day is without looking at your watch or onboard computer screen. I've developed a system for getting through a shift by breaking it into runs. Halfway through my day, I know there are two round trips left before the garage-bound deadhead. During a break, I may consult my watch to make sure I don't overstay my allotted time, but after a while I can tell when a break is about over just by my internal clock.
Speed is something I've come to feel without glancing at the speedometer. I'm too busy watching the scene in front of and around me. I check air pressure when I'm stopped, and other gauges as well. But when I'm rolling, I can feel when I've accelerated to just under the speed limit. My foot just automatically eases off the pedal. I watch the traffic lights and know when they will change. A line trainer once told me to keep my foot covering the brake unless I'm accelerating, and this advice quite often saves my posterior aspect. A stale green light is something I can predict changing about 90% of the time. Considering Portland's antiquated light synchronization system, that's pretty accurate.
Turning is another function that becomes routine, but no matter how experienced you are, this requires special attention. Veterans have become one with the bus, and know exactly when and how much to turn the wheel. Watching mirrors while simultaneously checking activity in front and to the sides is automatic. If we see something that isn't right, we stop. I've stopped a bus in the middle of an intersection for a good 10 seconds, blocking cross traffic that has the green light, because somebody has entered my safety zone. Doesn't affect me now, but it scared the hell out of me when I was green. Now I just stop and stare at the offender. Once they figure out how to get out of the way, I proceed. Usually these days it's fun to roll past people (with inches to spare) who have pulled up a bit too much, but not too far that I can't complete the turn. Their eyes get as wide as saucers, but if they just stay put, a professional can maneuver a vehicle safely around them.
Thanks for riding.