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Hail to the Bus Driver

Mary Ward just wants someone to talk to on her daily commute.

The perks of living near a bus depot are almost always counterbalanced by drawbacks.

Perk: you always get a seat. Drawback: you spend quite a long time sitting in it. Perk: the late night bus stops there. Drawback: you only need to fall asleep for five minutes and you’ve woken up in a locked, dark bus in the middle of an industrial area that would be shady if its tenants didn’t include Horseland and a children’s craft centre.

But there was one perk of living near the bus depot I thought the cruel world of public transport could never take away from me: having a chat to the—not-yet-behind-schedule—bus driver.

There’s the bus driver who so vividly remembered driving me to and from high school that, three years later, he asked me as I got off, “Did you move house?” (For the record: No, I had not. My well-bubble wrapped sisters and I were just so consistently late our mum would drive us to the next bus stop.) There’s the other bus driver who will tell me that I’m running late if I catch the bus after 6:40am. (And, as I struggle to get by without mum’s sneaky lifts, she’s right.)

Unfortunately, no human interaction is safe from the spread of wires, terminals and chips.

While once I had wandered onto the bus each morning, MyBus10 in hand, chatting to the driver as they crossed off the ticket’s trip number, now my experience is cut short thanks to Opal.

It’s a two-second affair. Step, tap, ping. Step, tap, ping. My fellow passengers and I come through the conveyor belt. If someone needs to buy a ticket, we don’t stop for them. Instead, we awkwardly reach our card around them to maintain the efficiency of Gladys’ regime.

The driver nods as we pass. He knows. We know. But, under the spell of Opal, neither of us are able to do anything about it.

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