When a bus operator is done with the last run, it's a blessed thing. We've managed to ferry nearly a thousand of our neighbors safely to their destinations, and the only thing left to do is to get the bus back to the barn so we can then drive/transit/bike or drag our butts home again. The LAST thing we need is for you to bombard us with questions, refuse to exit, or cause any other trouble. Our feet have depressed the brake pedal perhaps a thousand times (no exaggeration). We've dealt with countless issues that could have gone sour, negotiated the foolish shenanigans of impatient and inexperienced motorists, and heard conversations aplenty that would make even a sloth yawn in sympathy.
A couple times now, I've had a passenger with mental difficulties ride to the end of my shift and refuse to exit the bus. The first time, I patiently, then not-so-calmly, and finally explosively demanded she exit or be helped by the heel of my boot. Expletives were freely used in this command. It had been six months since my last vacation, and my patience was on its last razor. After answering each of her questions asked in an obvious stall tactic, my voice rose to a rarely-heard roar. The Rampant Lion would have envied that hearty command, laced with raging vulgarity.
After my outburst, I immediately regretted it. Not because I feared a reprimand for using base profanity, but rather because it didn't ring true to my being. We all tell ourselves we're not "cruel," but this time I trampled that line. She exited with a whimper, and my pride folded into a pocketed fist of shame. On the drive back to the garage, my behavior weighed heavily. As usual, I analyzed the issue from too many angles. Sure, it was easy to blame it on needing some time off, but that was too easy. Upon further self-analysis over many weeks of literary rest, I've realized it's due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Not just from this job (which has contributed many ingredients), but from my first marriage.
After 25 years of bliss with my incredible beloved, there are times when the past sneaks in to mess with me. It's usually very short-lived, because I now enjoy the security of someone in whom I trust fully with my tormented soul. She brings me back up with her sweet determination and gentle belief in the strength of our unity. When I get to a break after somebody has activated my detonator, she listens, soothes and reassures. In the span of a few minutes, I'm rendered whole again.
At the end of my run though, m'lady is in dreamville and I'm left to my own defenses. Part of me that night felt guilty, another was angry, still a remainder pondered what made me snap. It didn't take long to figure it out, but the solution remains just out of reach. Maybe someday I'll be able to deal with mentally-ill people with grace and kindness. It's going to take more work though, so I've decided to seek professional help. It's worked before. Now that I'm in the most stressful job I've ever had, it's time to reach up so someone can pull me up before I drown in this quagmire we know as the world of transit.
A blog reader once said I sounded like an angry person, and that's often true. It's likely due to the demons that still haunt me. It's evident that I need to deal with these feelings before I'm consumed by them. Still, I'm not always a grouchy old curmudgeon. My regulars know me to be ornery but hopefully also amusing. My microphone antics are playful and light, and usually I put forth a sunny face even when clouds affront me. There are times though, when the darkness takes over. Nobody can get through and the wall thickens as the day progresses. A few times, a trusty regular is able to shatter the barriers I've put up. Laughter is the best tool for this. When I feel this seemingly-impenetrable wall enclosing me, it's time to call my lady. Just the sound of her voice blasts the wall to shreds and makes me smile again.
In the end, love edges out the darkness. Without it, I'd be kicking people off my bus all day. They're lucky Mrs. Blue keeps me sane.