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Monday, July 23, 2007

The Mad Driver

posted by on July 23 at 9:43 AM

The doors open, I walk up the steps, pay the fare, and see a surgical mask on the bus driver’s face. The number of the bus: 44; the day: July 22; the time: around 10 pm; the location: the UD; the question in my head: Why is the driver wearing a surgical mask? Is there a smelly person on the bus? My nose says no. Has the bird flu finally arrived? My information says no. Is he simply crazy? My reason screams yes! But why is a crazy person driving the bus? Two possibilities: one, a madman killed the real driver and hijacked the bus; two, Metro is now hiring crazy people to drive its buses? Because no good can come out of either possibility, I jump off the bus at the next stop.

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I've ridden with that driver before. He's mostly harmless. ;)

Posted by Phelix | July 23, 2007 9:42 AM

Less dramatically... he probably has a diminished immune system and is protecting himself from common air-borne illnesses.

Posted by KM | July 23, 2007 9:45 AM

Flex Car

Posted by Josh Feit | July 23, 2007 9:46 AM

Is this a premonition or did it happen on July 22 at 10pm? Apocalypse to come, perhaps?

Posted by Justy | July 23, 2007 9:48 AM

I have seen this guy several times in my past 12 years of living in Seattle and riding metro. Totally harmless, just strange is all. But Charles you seem to be a little bit paranoid. You really should open your mind up and be more accepting.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 23, 2007 9:52 AM

Um, maybe he has a cold and was trying to be polite and not transmit it to anyone?

Posted by Gitai | July 23, 2007 9:54 AM

Why don't you frickin' ask him? You're a reporter, sort of, right? You work for a sort of newspaper, right? But if he told you why he wears the mask and his answer was boring then you wouldn't have a post. Better to play paranoid hipster writer and just imagine ...

Posted by roag | July 23, 2007 10:00 AM

Why didn't you just ask him? Aren't you all about understanding everything? Had you asked, you'd have an answer. Like so, you would not have made this post, where you sound like a total jerk.

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 23, 2007 10:01 AM

It doesn't seem like Charles ever confronts anyone directly about his questions...he just writes Slog posts where he doens't really interact with commenters either.

Posted by bus driver | July 23, 2007 10:10 AM

I once rode the #8 late at night with this guy and talked to him the whole trip. He was your average old bus driver, bit of a curmugeon (sp?) but friendly. I never had the courage to ask about the mask. There is a lady driver who dons the mask as well.

Posted by longball | July 23, 2007 10:13 AM

Myabe it is because they come into contact with hundreds (thousands?) of people every day and they don't want to contract something nasty, like say, oh, TB? Just a thought...

Posted by Brad | July 23, 2007 10:19 AM

If I drove a Metro bus, with the hordes of diseased and insane people getting on and off all day, I'd wear a mask too. It would not surprise me at all to hear that this driver was once sprayed with a syringe or something.

Posted by Fnarf | July 23, 2007 10:20 AM

ROFL @ roag #7

"You're a reporter, sort of, right?"

Posted by monkey | July 23, 2007 10:24 AM

calm the fuck down people, maybe...just maybe, Charles was tired (it was a Sunday at 10pm) and just didn't want to deal with any sort of confrontation that may arise from something abnormal.

Just because he's a writer doesn't mean that he needs to investigate every fucking thing.

Posted by cliff rancho | July 23, 2007 10:24 AM

I listened in on someone who asked him. He says he is exposed to everyone's colds and flues all day and doesn't want to get sick.

A little over the top, but kinda understandable.

Posted by mason | July 23, 2007 10:25 AM

I agree with #2.

Posted by elswinger | July 23, 2007 10:28 AM

yeah. pretty common in japan for example. not so common in the states but also not such a bad idea for a bus driver. if it had been a full-on gas mask it would have been a different story altogether though i understand not feeling like dealing with the facial tics of the public universe. blepharospasms of the real. next bus was fine, eh?

Posted by josh | July 23, 2007 10:37 AM

also, people wear surical masks in public in other countries with bad polution in order to reduce the effect of allergies.

Posted by kate | July 23, 2007 10:39 AM

@9...looks like the date has been corrected so Charles (or an editor?) must at least read the comments.

Posted by Justy | July 23, 2007 10:56 AM

Could be allergy or hay fever related. I have been getting slammed by hay fever off and on through July.

Posted by microveldt | July 23, 2007 11:30 AM

Better a surgical mask than an eye patch.

Posted by homage to me | July 23, 2007 11:32 AM

Worst "Last Days" hot tipper ever.

Posted by Matthew | July 23, 2007 1:30 PM

Some cultures consider it extremely impolite to be sick in public. In some of SF's Chinese neighborhoods, you see a lot of people wearing surgical masks because of this.

More likely though, it's the drivers reaction to "I feel a cold coming on", or a weakened immune system, as was mentioned already.

Posted by Dougsf | July 23, 2007 2:18 PM

Gee, I dunno, maybe he's tired of having people get on the bus, sneeze on him, and make him sick enough to miss work, so that he gets threatened with loss of his job?

Maybe he's had transplant surgery and is on immunosuppressant drugs and doesn't want to risk catching cooties.

Maybe he has AIDS, is immunosuppressed, and will die if he catches flu.

Maybe he likes yanking the chain of paranoid, freakishly passive-aggressive passengers who can't deal with anything remotely outside their "normal" experience.

None of those are your business. If he drives competently, that is your only concern.

Oh, and I've been riding Metro Transit and its predecessor here since the early 1960s. They've ALWAYS hired crazy people as drivers. Crazy people actually do better over the long term.

Posted by Geni | July 23, 2007 2:32 PM

Yeah, Charles, the actual solution to your dilemma here would be to say, "Say, why are you wearing a mask?"

Posted by Gomez | July 23, 2007 3:56 PM

Also, to further what Geni said, crazy people a) are willing to do a fucked up job like haul dozens of assholes between neighborhoods and b) probably won't get offered better jobs and quit on them.

Posted by Gomez | July 23, 2007 3:58 PM

Charles, don't travel to Japan. I don't think you're mentally well enough.

Posted by ka-chunk | July 23, 2007 5:28 PM

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