Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Scenarios that play out like a made-for-TV film.
Can you handle rebellious youths, combative elderly people, and hijackers? Then being a bus driver in the Bay Area might be the right job for you.
Never a Dull Moment, a 1980s instructional video made for region's bus drivers, helps viewers figure out the best way to handle unexpected conflicts while behind the wheel. Narrated by a seasoned driver named Jim Bishop, the video covers a variety of bad passenger behavior and the dos and don'ts for solving each conflict.
Some are easy to handle, like when a teenager comes in playing a loud boom box or smoking a cigarette (remind them it's not allowed and politely ask them to stop). But others require quick thinking, like when a brawl happens in the back, when a man makes unwanted advances towards you, or most dramatically, when someone decides to hijack the bus with a gun.
Most of the scenarios range between amusing and uncomfortable. But the hijacking scene watches like any made-for-TV action movie from the era, sparing no cost on a helicopter and fleet of cop cars for the dramatic chase scene, all of it accompanied by quintessentially 80s background music. Is this what bus fares pay for? And if so, are there more of these we can watch?
As for that climactic chase scene, Bishop keeps his cool after a brief slip-up while trying to be a hero. Using the driver's side silent alarm, police eventually track down the bus and arrest the hijacker. The good guys prevail, giving everyone watching not only a good show, but a guide for how to be a better bus driver.