Let’s Just Stick To Google Earth From Our Couch

, , , , | Working | March 3, 2021

Years ago, my mother and I went on a one-week bus tour across part of the United States. We had a tour guide who was worse than useless. For example, her idea of introducing us to a new city was to hand out brochures on fun things to do in that city as we were leaving. This particular story stands out, though.

We arrived in [City], where we were scheduled to attend an outdoor play that evening.

Tour Guide: “We’re going to a very fancy restaurant before the play, so make sure you dress up!”

We all put on the nicest things we’d brought. Some people really had some expensive clothes, too — much nicer than I would have brought on a bus tour, but I digress.

The bus arrived on time to drive us to the restaurant, but there was no sign of [Tour Guide].

Bus Driver: “She said she’d meet you there.”

Okay, fine.

We got to the restaurant, only to find that it wasn’t due to open for another hour. The bus had already left, so there was nowhere to sit, and it was EXTREMELY hot. Many of the tourists were elderly and looked like they were about to faint. [Tour Guide] finally showed up as the restaurant was opening, which makes me think that SHE knew its hours of operation. Too bad she didn’t share them with us. She ignored how miserable we all looked.

Tour Guide: *Brightly* “Okay! Let’s go have dinner! You’ll love this place. It’ll probably be one of the best meals you ever had.”

We got inside, and… it was a cafeteria — the kind where you grab a plastic tray and choose your food from a cold case or order a hot entrée from the folks standing behind the counter. All of us looked at each other in our finery and raised our eyebrows. We were all thinking, “We got dressed up for THIS?”

After a very mediocre meal, we got to the play which, as I mentioned, was outdoors and therefore in the heat. At least we got to sit down! Oh, and the play was The Passion Play. Neither my mother nor I were remotely religious and hadn’t realized beforehand what it was about. We were bored to tears.

For that reason and many others, Mum sent a furious letter to the tour company when we got home, and they offered her a free shoulder bag — with their logo on it, naturally — as an apology. Mum told them politely where they could stick their free advertising.

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All Aboard The Guilt Bus!

, , , , , | Working | February 18, 2021

This takes place at the beginning of spring before masks become mandatory in my province but are still recommended in public, confined places. I am running late for the bus and have my mask in my hand as I sprint to the bus stop. The driver sees me running, stops the bus, and waits for me.

I board the bus and dig in my pocket to get some change. I haven’t put my mask on yet, as I find it hard to breathe through it when running. The drivers have these huge plastic curtains for these situations. This driver has his curtain pulled to the side, put away.

Driver: “Hi, how’re you today?”

As I put change in the terminal:

Me: “Great. Running a little late, though. Thanks for waiting.”

Driver: “Yeah, you can show your gratitude by not killing my grandma.”

He makes a gesture to his own paper mask. I chuckle awkwardly, putting on my cloth mask.

Me: “Don’t worry, sir. I’m not planning on doing that.”

The driver mumbled an apology and didn’t say anything for the rest of the ride.

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Cane You Please Back Off?

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | February 14, 2021

Several years ago, I was on the bus, playing on my original Nintendo DS and listening to music. 

Apparently, this older man started asking me what I was playing on and I couldn’t hear him because, you know, I was listening to music. 

Since I, a stranger, wasn’t paying attention to him, he decided to hit me in the shins with his cane!

He was amazed that I wasn’t receptive to answering his questions after this.

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Your Boss Literally Threw You Under The Bus

, , , | Working | CREDIT: kschang | December 10, 2020

I work for a bus charter company. The problem is that my boss is a total cheapskate. This is one of the stories where he treats people like dirt instead of spending money.

One of the buses develops a problem: after driving a certain number of miles, it loses its gear. It has an automatic transmission, so this is obviously internal. There’s nothing we can do about it except take it to a transmission shop. And since it’s not really drivable, it should have be towed.

Not to my boss.

He grabs the backup bus and has me follow him in my car up to the disabled bus. The existing driver takes the backup bus, transfers the passengers, and leaves, leaving the “broken” bus and us behind, and my own car on the side of the highway. Highway patrol already came by and asked us to call a tow… or they’d call one for us.

So, my boss jumps into the bus and tries to start it. It won’t start. Nothing from the starter.

I climb under the bus. It looks like the ground wire has come loose from the starter, so there’s an incomplete circuit. But a starter in a bus is like 100 pounds, I kid you not. I don’t have the tools to remove it, redo the ground wire, and put it back. The connector has snapped off, so it’s not a matter of just screwing it back in, either.

My boss gives me an order.

Boss: “Just hold the connector to the ground stud until I get the bus started.”

Okay, fine.

It’s getting dark, and we’re next to a highway where big rigs drive by at speed limit and wind is whipping me every few seconds.

He gets the bus started. I get out, slap my dust off, get into my car, and follow him off the freeway.

But he doesn’t stop. He goes through the underpass, gets back on the highway, and starts heading back home.

I call him.

Me: “What’s going on?

Boss: “I’m going to drive it home.”

Me: “But the transmission is acting funny.”

Boss: “As long as it moves, it’ll be fine.”

Keep in mind we’re about two and a half hours from the home base — 120 to 150 miles.

As predicted, after about twenty-five or thirty miles, the transmission conks out. And the only way to fix this is to turn the power off, thus resetting the transmission computer… which means I have to climb under the bus and do the restart procedure again.

And again.

And again.

And it’s getting worse, enough that my boss is forced to take LOCAL roads instead of the highway, as these highways are not that wide.

What should have taken two and a half hours took us five hours, instead. And my car was a total mess because I had climbed in and out and rolled on the ground so many times that both I and my car were filthy.

It turned out that the bus needed to be towed ANYWAY, because our mechanic said it had to be done at his shop… which was an hour away… back the way we had come from.

We could have saved a TON of time and I would have been a lot cleaner if my boss weren’t such a cheapskate.

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Time To Learn That Nothing Is Free

, , , , , | Friendly | CREDIT: jay_boyo_ | November 24, 2020

To celebrate National Novel Writing Month, my creative writing teacher is making us write a 30,000-word novel. That constitutes about a thousand words a day. This is my first novel, so I decide maybe it’d be best to go for a children’s novel. I’m not saying those are easy to write; I just have some experience with storytelling with children.

To cram some words in, I am writing on the bus. It is pretty nice; people are minding their business, and I’m just a dude working on his laptop… until some kid is like, “I’m going to wreck his productivity!” and starts asking me a lot of questions. I don’t necessarily mind, because this is the age range I’m writing for. It’s a pretty open bus, so his mom has sight of both me and him. We bounce ideas back and forth until his mother comes over.

Mom: “Hey, [Kid], what’re you doing?”

Kid: “I’m helping him write!”

Mom: “What’re you writing?”

Me: “I’m writing a children’s novel. Your kid has been a lot of help.”

Mom: “Well, if he’s helped so much, shouldn’t he be able to get a copy for free?”

I then try to explain to her about the editing process, which can take anywhere from a few days to an entire month, and the publishing process, which would take about half a month to a full month. I also tell her that I’m not even done with it yet. I am barely halfway through the seventh chapter. The kid’s opinions and suggestions might not even come through in the published version.

She then goes OFF about how her son should be compensated for his ideas and how he should at least have a free copy when it is out.

Me: “Oh, I’m planning on selling this on Amazon. I’m publishing under [My Pen Name].”

She continued to say her son should get a free copy. I just got off the bus.

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