I’ve spent over a thousand hours on the city bus, that’s not a hyperbole. We’re talking two hours a day, five days a week, for four years. I’ve seen many a bus driver, male, female, old, young, fat, thin, every combination of person that exists and a couple that I’d believe were secretly aliens. But they all do the salute. When one bus passes another bus, the bus drivers salute each other. Always.
I call it a salute. Really, it’s mostly a wave. Sometimes it’s a ‘cool dude finger point’ or a raised hand or a full on ‘hey it’s my long lost friend wave’, but there’s always something. It’s stupendous. Every time I see it I break into a tiny awkward smile because I’m afraid to release the big one that will make all the other passengers thinking I’m a maniacal serial killer (buses have rules about smiling and eye contact).
But the Bus Driver Salute is stupendous because it creates a system of unity amidst severely isolated people. Sure bus drivers seem like their high on the social interaction scale but how many people actually speak to the bus driver? Maybe 20%. And of those how many are nothing more than a ‘hi’ or ‘thanks’. If they get a complete sentence it’s just ‘how do I get to this place?’.
They don’t have the chitchat cubicle conversations of regular office jobs. They drive their routes and go home, that’s it. So they created the salute. There’s nothing more stupendous than say ‘hey, I acknowledge you, you’re doing a great job, have an awesome day.’
What’s even more stupendous is that this can’t have been an implemented rule. I strongly doubt it’s in the handbook. This was started by a couple of friendly bus drivers who just wanted to wave at everyone and brighten their day. And it grew into something great. Something all encompassing. This isn’t just city buses. It’s Go and Greyhound buses too.
They created their own community and made their own moment of joy because one guy wanted to create smiles with a wave. How is that not stupendous?