Oh Yeah, Work Started

Back we are, driving through the Franconian wilderness. I got a new vehicle, a new route, a new co-driver, all “brand” new, with little chips around the edges.
I took over a vehicle that needed a bit of cleaning and disinfecting. The former driver (a stand in, as I was told) did not take too much care on things. I noticed that the tank was half full – or half empty, what ever you may prefer – but at the filling station only ten litres went in. The fuel gauge was stuck – nothing dramatic, but not nice. A trip to the trader’s garage. Also the ad-blue reservoir was nearly empty and had to be refilled.
On the first day I realised that a part of the restraining devices was not working properly, what meant a trip to our own garage. This is not a “not nice” “thing”, but dangerous neglect of duty.
I had tried to reach the parents of my kids before starting, but out of five, I just spoke to two. One family did not react to my calls and messages (they simply thought it not to be necessary), while two families were totally out of reach, because the phone numbers I was given, were simply not working / outdated. I was a bit miffed.
On the Frayday before work would start seriously, I drove the whole tour alone, just to make sure where to go, turn around the white wale, look for places to maneuvre etc. I have to cover mostly one small rural town. On Tuesday the following week, the first real workday, the lovely Franconian town’s administration had installed at least three new constructing sites. So it was improvising from the start. It is not a large town, and I visited it ages ago, but the traffic guidance is, let’s call it peculiar.
I had asked my new co-driver whether she was briefed on the different devices for securing wheel chairs etc., and she happily said “yes”, she could show me how it was done. Sadly she did not know how to use necessary belts (“We never used this.”), and she had absolutely no idea about medications. Now she knows about both.
On Thursday afternoon it was initially a nice drive, the kids (those who can speak and interact) were having fun, when the lovely black girl in the wheelchair all of a sudden started to make some unwanted noises. I only saw her in the mirror, and had no place to stop. I wanted to get out the first child (for reasons I do not want to explain). When we stopped at her place I took care of wheel chair girl, and realised that she had an asthmatic attack. I opened her jacket and found that she had been fixated in her wheel chair so strongly that I could not stick a finger under these goddam belts. In fact I could barely stretch these damn things to open them. I threw the crap off while the co-driver searched through the child’s school bag for medication. She found a haler, and some other stuff. I was unsure, and in the end decided that we could make it home, when I saw her breathing steadily. She took a position where she could straighten her trachea, was not turning blue or something like that. To this minute I could still rip my arse off : I should have given her the haler without further thinking – it would have made it a lot easier for her. Next time I know better.
At this moment, when I saw I could go on and would not need an emergency doctor or other help, I realised the noise around me : The fourteen year old girl was whining loudly, the eleven year old boy was yelling about death, and the mother of the first kid was standing in the slide-door weeping. Goodness, at least my co-driver was silent. I politely told them to be quiet (“Ruhe jezz !”) and then rammed the vehicle through the commuter traffic to reach her place. At least she was breathing freely by then.
Next morning we finally met the girl’s father who showed (& explained) us the different medications, and some tricks with the wheelchair – we could have had this earlier if I had reached him (or someone else from the family) by phone.
I never have started a new tour so unprofessionally.
Frayday morning I went to my dispatcher to tell him about the whole thing. The list I was given, with names, contact data, and a column containing additional info about the kids was crap (for wheelchair girl nothing was noted down !) Other information was not accurate, contact persons had moved, family names were wrong. And it can not be that a co-driver happily explains that she knows how to handle things, when basic practices are not explained / shown to her. (What means that in the two months before the holidays, when she had started (in June) and worked with a part of “my” kids, they drove around without basic restraining devices – that’s a no go !) I was angry & serious, and I know that he understood.
He said that they had to hire a lot of new people in short time, and that proper procedures were neglected. He knows that he can’t let things slide. I doubt that there will be a mandatory information event about proper restraining etc. and / or medication. I would be happy if these topics would at least be addressed at the next works meeting (“Betriebsversammlung”), because everybody must take part in such an assembly, no excuses.
I had more action in those first four days than on other tours in a whole school year.
Now I have to look for Sunday Music.

Apus apus

BIttersweet, yes I think this characterises this week best.
Wednesday I sat on my balcony for some hours in the late afternoon, looking at the sky and watching those admirable little birds, Mauersegler, apus apus, or common swift. It’s possible that a few swallows were also in the group. I always remember that the augures, Roman seers, used to watch the birds, their behaviour & sounds, to catch a glimpse into the future. I was not that classy, and looked mostly back.
I finished a project that run over several years, mostly by accident. Nevertheless I felt a bit melancholic, pensive. At one point some years ago, I naively nursed the hope that there was the possibility of a long & steady contract. I made some suggestions that were rejected in clear words. Now I learned that the man who hired me ten (!) years ago retired last year, and that the (then) head honcho will leave for good to the end of this year. So the whole thing is buried now, as it was meant to be from the start. I have to go through some papers, billets etc. for the last outstanding bill, and that was that. It was a long good-bye.
There are one (or three) “things” that vex me, I know that there is a need for further investigation, research. I always defined myself, when asked “and what are you up to ?” by saying “Oh, the usual, lesen schreiben, recherchieren (read, write, research)”. I do not want it to end with a whimper. call it bus driver’s pride if you like.
The heat was unforgiving over the last days, finally this afternoon brought heavy rain, but no real relief. It’s a Dampfbad now, but at least with clear air. The small creek down there is not so little right now. She (it’s die Haslach) rose out of her bed and drenches adjacent fields. Too much water falling down in too little time. More rain is promised, at least slightly falling temperature too, but this promise was given & not kept a little too often over the last weeks by those weather people. All one can do is drink water, reduce the intake of “news”, and feed one’s brain. (The local firefighters arrived in the creek’s behalf, and put up some barriers, so yeah, they did something : If someone ignores these plastic things and gets wed feet, or falls in and drowns, the municipality is on the safe side – hey, we told you to not to !)
I do not want to blether on & on. I am tired in a way. My clothes are spread all over the place to dry, I was caught in the afternoon’s downpour. After less than ten meters walking it was useless to seek shelter, because t-shirt & trousers were already soaked, so I enjoyed the walk in the rain.
I want to end this with something friendly, swinging – so here is some music to enjoy.

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trallala … buvons donc !

Things happen fast & brutal in the adventurous world that is a bus driver’s life. I had to give my car to a new colleague, the snake I nurtured on my bosom over the last days. My (rather hyper) dispatcher told me that he’d need me as stand-by now. Things were hectic at this morning, and when I walked away from my now ex-vehicle I asked him whether he’d call me – “Of course I’ll call you back” may be the most common lie nowadays. In earlier days it was “The check is in the post”. After busily waiting until the early afternoon for the non-call, I realised that I would not drive (yesterday’s) afternoon, and surely not today’s morning.
So I am busily doing nothing, waiting for a call.
Actually I wanted to write about Artificial Intelligence, these algorhythms that wrote BEETHOVENs tenth symphony, calculate insurance premia, run computer trading at the exchange, and GOd alone may know what these machines already “do for us”. Now the image creating program DALL-E is hyped, but it is not the only one of its kind. More users will be allowed, so the thing gets better training.
I am not sure where all this is headed. Yesterday I saw in the news an autonomous roboter dog with a submachine gun mounted, one can buy it for some thousand dollars. I think the “dog” is still “un-intelligent”, and will shoot at anything in range, when programmed / ordered to do so. Do I want “intelligence added to such a perversion ? So little Blammo can act even more independently, and “decide” when to shoot whom ?
Anyway, it is much too hot to think seriously, especially about morals & ethics. Subjects by the way, that are absolutely unimportant in this modern world’s politics, it is simply again all about who has the bigger club. The stupidity of this testosterone-driven boneheadedness is simply stunning ; the responsiveness of the masses for the most simple and obvious lies is mind-crashing. Where’s my high horse, damn it ?! To end on a light note – War to the bottles !

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Sunday Music

Sorry, no asparagus today. But something nice happened last week related to my work, and it was in true Knights’ form. On Thursday I was told that I’d do the route on Friday morning for the last time. I should bring the co-driver home, park the vehicle there, and wait – they’d pick me up. So I disinfected my former workplace on Friday morning, and waited – until a young lady showed up, and drove me around. We finally reached our destination, where I was given a print of the basic data for my new route, the key to the new vehicle, and a friendly “Off you go !”
The only downside was that I could not enter the vehicle – I should loose a few pounds, really. So a contortionist had to be found, but finally I rumbled off. Pretty happy btw, because finally I drive over land again. It is not as long as what I had before the pause, but better than what I had to do for the last few weeks. I expect that I will keep this tour until the end of the school year – in other words, the end of July. Best thing so far, the new co-driver likes classical music too. There is hope.
Today’s Sunday Music is a little piece by BACH, the Sarabande from his French Suite Nr. 1 (in d-moll), performed by Gila GOLDSTEIN. I hope you enjoy the music. May the coming week be restful & relaxing !

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