Midnight Driver

Between 1987 and 1992, was in Montreal and Toronto weekly. Ottawa on the weekends. Family in Ottawa. Doctoral world in Toronto, financed in part by Montreal Concordia association. Ended/suspended in 1992, when the route became Toronto-Kitchener Waterloo weekly (Wilfrid Laurier); Ottawa on the weekends.

Took a lot of intercity buses. Lost much interest in travel thereafter. On the Voyageur tourpass. Encountered a lot of intercity bus drivers.

Culture of every occupation. Would see the same drivers in different cities. Particularly the midnight run from Montreal to Toronto. What happened on the midnght bus is another story, or stories.

Remember being impressed with their stoicism, their calm. Changes, further positives. The first non-Caucasian, a South Asian, doing the midnight run out of Montreal, and being so pleased. The first woman, maybe in mid-twenties, doing the midnight run, out of Montreal, and being so pleased. Like they had wanted to do this run for most of their lives.

In the same way that some people, a young age, are taken by planes or trains, others become enamoured with these huge mechanical autoroute beasts. Must be the same with those who can’t get enough of cross-country truck travel.

An older veteran, who was less stoic, less calm. Recognizing a regular on the midnight run, he would speak to me from time to time. Upset with the number of children he was transporting between cities on weekends and holidays, in the context of custody and access disputes. Apoplectic about the young prostitutes he ended up transporting from Montreal to Toronto, several times a week. Upset with seeing too much, over too many years. This after one had said goodbye to her friends, from the back of the bus, by raising her top and flashing her breasts. Major smiles all around, with her friends. No smile from him.

Noticed that he wasn’t driving for several weeks. Asked about him. Heart attack. Dead and gone. No more upset.

Comraderie and distance among the drivers, since the actual work was largely solitary. Generally felt quite safe on the buses; accidents were rare. One exceptional fatal accident for a driver, running into the back of a truck. Thought there would be some sort of major funeral, attended by various drivers. Asked another driver if so. No; also solitary in death. Could take the day off to attend, if you want. Maybe not paid.

After twenty or thirty years of this, assuming the body can hold out that long…daily studies in…social change?

Briefly searched to see if there has been a book of recollections published by an intercity bus driver. Closest I could find was a passenger recollection of the overnight drive to Istanbul.

Butts Band, “Baja Bus”:

About brucelarochelle

This entry was posted in Kitchener-Waterloo Reflections, Montreal Reflections, Toronto Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

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