On the buses — from here to there and all stops in between

The thank-yous have become louder and more confident

It’s hard to thank the bus driver these days. Most buses now have those middle doors for exiting, so you have to really brace yourself to yell all the way up to the top.

For a while there, I took to waving in the front door from the footpath.

But that was only if I was passing that way and the bus was still there and the door was still open and there weren’t too many people trying to board.

And even then, I’m not sure it worked.


The driver was generally too busy to notice and I only ever had one nod of acknowledgement in numerous tries. As an alternative to the old-fashioned expression of gratitude upon leaving by the front door, I couldn’t see this taking off.

I spend a lot of time on Dublin buses. It would be easy to say that life in its many facets is there to be viewed.

That may well be true once it’s also acknowledged that the vast majority of that those facets have their heads dug deeply into their phones.

I’m certainly in that category. I have my Wordle to do and the Spelling Bee even though either or both drive me crazy, because sometimes they’re so doable and other times they’re the equivalent of attempting to scale a 20ft concrete wall from a standing position and don’t even get me started on the strangeness of American spelling.

It’s rare, then, that any conversation ensues.

Not so long ago, though, I got talking to a man seated to my right, while I was standing in the aisle. This was before the horror of those scenes in O’Connell Street but nonetheless there was much talk of the awfulness of the world right now.

There are most definitely awful things happening in the world right now and I found myself kind of nodding in agreement until I sensed the conversation had taken on a kind of nihilistic hopelessness. And so I made an effort to nudge it back towards his grandchildren whom he’d mentioned with great fondness from the off and we parted on chirpier terms than might otherwise have been the case.

And then there was the conversation that the bus driver, himself, kicked off. The bus was full at the time and I and a few others were ensconced at the very front, hanging onto poles close to his cab.

He took a shine to a young man and woman, clearly a couple, over by the door and grilled them with on their relationship. Where were they going and how long they’d been going out and the like. Much chortling and muttering ensued. “Is he a keeper?”, he inquired of the woman who glanced at the floor and refused to commit one way or the other.

There are still passengers wearing masks on most buses but, of course, nothing like the numbers at the height of the pandemic.

That was when I took to scanning the sides of the bus as it pulled up to the stop to see how many windows were open.

Once on board, it became my mission to open as many as I could.

If there was an empty seat beside a closed window, I’d be there in a jiffy and have that window pushed outwards before the bus pulled away.

Sometimes there were fellow window vigilantes on board and we’d smilingly lean over passengers to do the needful or, far more often in my own case, watch and wait as the journey progressed, moving swiftly into a vacated window seat to gain access to that opening.

Mind you, for all my fastidiousness, discovering only as I was about to disembark, that the person who’d been sitting behind me for the past 20 or so minutes had their mask on their chin, would leave me starting the day with my hand as good as glued to my forehead.

A colleague at work and fellow bus regular had a woman stand beside her who, with a great show of relief and much deep breathing all-round, entirely removed her mask and stashed it away.

The crowded, contained space of the bus was clearly an oasis of relaxation and calm for this individual, after a long day of mask-wearing.

Maybe not so much for the people immediately beside her, mind you.

I’ve noticed in the past few days that thank-yous to the driver are beginning to reassert themselves once more. This is since the burning out of those buses and trams on that dark November evening.

The thank-yous have become louder and more confident and are aimed most definitely towards the top of the bus.

It’s a comforting development and one that I’m more than happy to join in with.