|Flea meds, please? You drive a bus, remember?|
"I prefer to stand, thank you," she said.
"Been sitting a while today, have you?" I asked. It had been a quiet day with passengers, and I hoped to spark some conversation. My day had been quite boring to that moment.
"No," she replied. "It's just safer for me this way. The last time I sat on a bus I got bugs on me. They came into my house with me, and I had to have it sprayed to get rid of them. I'm sorry, but your buses just aren't sanitary enough for me to want to sit down."
I was lost for words, and couldn't argue. It's painfully true.
We seem to be top heavy these days. There are plenty of $100k-plus management positions worthy of the axe in exchange for about six full-time bus cleaners. It's the least they could do for those who make transit work. I'll bet their offices are spic 'n span, clean smelling. Antiseptic even. But we drive thousands of miles each day in bacteria-ridden cesspools. And people wonder why we're not "happy just to have a job."
"Back in the day," one of my brothers told me, "we had a cleaning crew. They mopped and washed each surface in the bus." He sighed. "Those were the good old days. Before the current management came in and said they could do it cheaper and better." Hey, I've heard those words before, when I worked in Corporate America. That phrase failed to produce promised results there as well.
I wash my hands thoroughly after either riding in or driving any of our buses. It's just safer that way. When you consider how many people have bed bugs, lice, or any number of hangers-on in their tighty-whities, it's enough to make your skin crawl. Which reminds me... I have a date with a lye-based bath.