3 Short Stories: The Drunk Lady, The Drunk Man and The French Couple
By Alister Fuller
As a bus driver I get to experience many situations and encounter many people on my travels. Here are three Stories.
This first Story is different, because it is rare that you see a middle aged lady who happened to enjoy herself too much that she was literally legless. It probably would have been a Friday night or Saturday night, it happened a few years ago so I cannot remember exactly. However the incident is clear in my mind.
It was my last trip and there were no passengers in my bus, however, the rule is we have to complete the trip. So I drove through the Pines Shopping center and as I passed the bus stop, I noticed a lady using the public phone. She was alone, it was around 1am, there was no body around the shops, it was brightly lit and there would have been cameras, so it was reasonably safe being a major shopping center. It seemed quite normal at first but in my rear view mirror something strange happened. I noticed that she was so drunk that she was using the telephone chord to maintain her balance, so the receiver was not near her ears, instead she was using it to basically be upright, if not she would have been on the floor. She was totally intoxicated.
Since I had already gone past, I did not want to get out of the bus and walk back to see if she was alright. I was a bit far, so I decided to do a full circle, hoping that when I return, she would have moved on and then I can go on my merry way. When I came back, she was still hanging onto the telephone line. It seemed like she was trying to pull it off the wall. So I got out of the bus to see if she needed any assistance. With her eyes barely opened and her voice muffled — basically totally drunk, she told me that she was trying to call her partner to get him to come and pick her up from the shopping center. The funny part is she did not put any money into the machine and instead she was using the phone to maintain her balance and was wondering why her partner was not answering the phone. I told her to give me the number and I will call him from my phone. With a bit of difficulty an quite a bit of delay, I managed to get the number and I spoke to the gentleman on the other line giving him a brief info that he had to pick her up from the shopping center. She spoke to him too using a few swear words, however, his reply was, take a cab, I am sleeping and he disconnected the phone. At 1am, there are no cabs in sight and as a human being I could not leave that lady all alone, in that condition on a cold night at this shopping center. So being the person that I am and cutting a long story short without going into the specifics, I managed to drop that lady in front of her door and I waited for her to enter her home before I drove off in my car. Another good day at the office.
The drunk man — Octavia
Another similar story comes to mind in exactly the same shopping center. I had this gentlemen with a wine bottle in his hand in my bus on a short trip on his way to the shopping center. I was the last bus and it was around 1am. I engaged in conversation with him. He had gone for a party and he is trying to get home and there are no cabs and secondly he was too drunk, he did not know where he was. The only good thing about him is that he had a good sense of humour, he seemed happy and I dubbed him, the happy drunk.
He lived in Bundoora and he was heading to Donvale which is nowhere near his home. I immediately knew that he was lost. I asked him how he planned to get home. His plan was to take a bus to the city (1hr), then take the 86 tram (another 1hr) to Bundoora. After midnight, there are no buses, so that plan was not going to work. He also said he has no money to take a cab. This night was a cold night and the human aspect in me did not permit me to leave him at the shopping center at that hour in that condition.
The good part was that I lived in the next suburb to Bundoora and that was my last trip and I was soon heading home anyway so cutting a long story short without going into the details I dropped him at his apartment in my car. However the strange thing was that he was paying attention to the road in his drunken state and he could not recognise the route I was taking. He kept commenting that he does not know where he is and kept questioning me if I was taking him home or somewhere else. I could tell that he was beginning to get worried. I told him to relax. However when he was closer to home he did recognise the area and his face lit up and he was in disbelief that he was near his home. I dropped him at his door step and told him that he has to be more responsible with his drinking. He thanked me and as usual I waited for him to enter the lobby of his building before I left. The strange thing is that he did not forget his wine bottle. I still remember his name — Octavia.
The French Couple — Their first day in Melbourne
I had to turn around in the city and do a trip back to Warrandyte. Usually before I do, I have a few minutes to relieve myself. On my way, I noticed a young couple with 2 big boxes and few carry bags sitting in the corridor and basically relaxing. On my way back, I started a conversation with them. I asked them what they were doing in Melbourne with all their luggage. In their broken English they said that they had arrived from France at 5am and they are waiting for the hotel check in time of 2pm. The time was 8am. I told them that they have 6 hours and if they would like to take a ride in my bus and I would bring them back to the same spot in exactly 2 hours. On our way I can give them a rundown of Melbourne and the suburbs. At first they were reluctant because I am a stranger and this was a new country. I convinced them that firstly they would learn more about Melbourne, secondly there are not many passengers during off peak so they would have the bus to themselves and I can explain to them some landmarks on our journey. They would learn more about Melbourne for sure. They finally agreed and I helped them with their luggage and they got on my bus. I do this mainly to entertain myself, because it is quite boring driving an empty bus with no passengers.
On our way, I explained to them about all the tourist sights en route. They asked a few questions and we had a decent conversation. They seemed a very nice couple. The guy was not very good with English, but his partner was OK.
I usually enjoy creating memories for people. This was their first trip to Australia and I asked what they would like to see most in Australia. Her reply was to see Kangaroos. That triggered an idea in my mind. I live 30min from the city and the great part of my home is that it is surrounded by bush land and a state forest which is a reserve for Kangaroos. Usually when I have any international visitors I take them to this reserve which is a 5min walk from my home and we get to see Kangaroos and other fauna up close and personal.
So I asked them if they were hungry and they said Yes. I also asked them if they had an Indian Thali Meal. They said No, never. Of course I had to explain what a Thali Meal was, that made them even more hungry. My 4hr lunch break (split shift) was coming up after this trip. So I suggested to them if they would like to come to my home, I would cook them a Thali Meal and then we could take a walk to the nearby state forest and see Kangaroos and after that I would drop them off at their hotel around 2pm so they don’t have to push their boxes around or take a cab. They liked the idea and they agreed. So I got them off at the Pines Shopping centre and I asked them to wait for about 20min before I go to my depot, drop off the bus, pick up my car and come back to pick them up. Everything went according to plan, except that their luggage was not fitting in my car so we had to put a seat down to make everything fit and then we were on our merry way to my home.
I cooked them some freshly cooked rice, roti, and I did have some left over curries and vegetable in the fridge. I do have some Thali stainless steel plates as well. So I prepared this hot meal and even gave them the famous Indian drink — Mango Lassi. I had to educate them on how to eat this meal and what goes with what because there were quite a few dishes on their plate. They were in disbelief that on their first day in Melbourne they saw so much of Melbourne and sitting in a suburban family home having a wholesome Indian meal. The best however was yet to come.
After their meal, we took a short walk to the nearby state forest reserve. We saw Kookaburras which is a rare bird to see and we saw quite a few Kangaroos. They were posing for photos and trying to go up close to the Kangaroos to get the best possible photos. They could not believe their luck and this was their First day in Melbourne. It was getting time for me to get back to my second half at work, so we got back to the car and started heading back to the city. I dropped them off in front of their hotel, we added each other to Facebook said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch on FB.
We did keep in touch on FB for a few months and then that died off. After about a year she posted something about Melbourne and in her post I asked her how was her first day in Melbourne? Her reply was just one word “Magical”. I have to admit, I love my job as a bus driver, everyday is different and like any job “it’s what you make of it”.