2017 Nov 23
Ah, Sri Lankan buses; so quintessentially Lankan yet definitely not one of the things you miss when you’re living abroad and pining for the motherland. If you’ve frequented them often enough you come to recognise the staple few bus drivers you’re sure to always encounter.
1. The Formula 1 racer
This guy will barrel down the road at full speed before screeching to a halt at the bus stop, often in an attempt to get there before some other bus. He’s also the one who pulls off before you’re fully on the bus. You end up with one leg on the footboard and one on the road, half hopping along the bus for a few seconds until you can jump in. He’ll slam on the brakes every 5 minutes to avoid running someone down or to stop at ahalt, giving you a good idea what it must be like going on the Knight Bus in the wizarding world. Oh and, good luck if you want to know whether this bus stops at a particular place before getting on because this driver will have raced off before you can get the words “(insert stop here) nawatthanawada?” out.
2. The snail
While the racer is a menace, the one who crawls could possibly be worse. Public transport isn’t the most enjoyable especially after a long day of work and there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a never ending ride while this driver does his best to impersonate an asthmatic snail. Since when it rains, it pours, this guy will also stop every-freaking-where. Even where there are no bus halts or passengers in sight and of course he’ll stop there for eternity until someone turns up after a good 15 minutes or more of waiting! Might as well get down from the bus and walk instead, you’ll reach your destination faster.
3. The gross one
Ladies, we’ve all come across the guy who stares at you from the review mirror if you’re standing behind that little railing in the front. There are even some drivers who have multiple mirrors set up around them and whether it’s just a testament to how vain they are or something creepier I’m not sure. Either way, he will make you feel uncomfortable by leering at you when you get on and if you’re unlucky enough to be stuck in the front, will continue to glance at you continuously like he has never seen a woman before in his life.
4. The bulath guy
You would have undoubtedly seen this driver risking his life and about a hundred others’ by unwrapping his betel leaves while he’s driving. Safety first man, your addiction be damned!
He’ll be chewing on his betel leaves throughout the day, probably to take the edge off what is no doubt a tedious job. Not to mention the lovely surprise that is bulathkela raining down on you or your vehicle when this driver spits out the window as he drives by.
5. The fighter
You’ll be able to spot this bus driver before you even get into the bus because he’ll be yelling at another bus driver, most likely in filth that make your ears burn. Whether it’s some dispute over sharing passengers or what we won’t know for sure.This guy and his anger management problems will also make you fear for your life as he chases down another driver that he believes has slighted him in some way or the other. And of course since they’re a team, the conductor also joins in on this verbal action, leaning out the door to scream at the driver of the other vehicle or bus.
6. The friends
These guys have been driving around the same routes for so long that they’ve built friendships with other drivers who take the same or overlapping routes. They’ll be stopped at traffic or a halt, talking to each other about their respective days, the weather, how bad the traffic is and the like. Once I heard one bus driver reminding the other driver that dinner was at his place that night and his wife was making a bombass meal for them (I’m paraphrasing here obviously, but #friendshipgoals).
7. The good guy
If you’re lucky you sometimes encounter the good guy driver who follows road rules, doesn’t brake so hard and often that you can feel your breakfast coming up, has no road rage, isn’t a pervert and is actually courteous. Before I became the bus connoisseur I am now, when I first started using public transport, I was obviously lost when it came to navigating my way around the city. Some drivers took pity on my poor soul and would drop me exactly where I needed to go if it was on the way, which is something I will forever appreciate. Sometimes when you’re driving down a small road, you even come across the bus driver who pulls to the side to let you overtake him, because he gets that there’s little more frustrating than following a bus which stops every 3 minutes for people to get on. Honestly, as bad a rep as bus drivers get (apo bus karayek wage elawannaepa), they’re not all bad.