Life Lesson from Driving Bubba the Bus; My Skoolie Conversion In Progress: Bus Life As A Solo Female Traveler

Driving a bus is a different kettle of fish, then driving any other sort of vehicle. It feels different. People react to you differently. The experience is different. It is simply different.  I have been driving Bubba the Bus for the past three months in the City. Here are the top 5 things that Bubba has taught me.

Driving Bubba the Bus, my Skoolie Conversion

5) Make Eye Contact:  My dad was a trucker for most of his life and he imparted a lot of wisdom, which serves me well while driving Bubba. He taught me how to make a fan-belt out of my pantyhose, change a tire, oil and air-filter, put on tire chains, showed me how a distributor worked, taught me to always carry an emergency road kit with flares, flashlight and warming blanket and pump my brakes, turn into a skid and always stay calm. One thing he always said to me was, ‘if you can’t see them, they can’t see you.’ He was referring to my position in a little car, behind an 18 wheeler. I learned at an early age, to give truckers a wide berth and a generous amount of respect.  Although Bubba is not an 18 wheeler, I hear my dad’s wisdom in my ear a lot, as I drive him.

In today’s world, we are disconnected, disengaged and distracted; texting while driving, chatting on the phone, even watching movies behind the wheel.  One of the single most important things I do, behind the wheel of Bubba, make eye contact.

I find myself waving, calling out random “HELLO’s” to get people’s attention, so I can cross an intersection or enter a gas station. It is an extra layer of effort, but one that has had interesting side-effects. 9 out of 10 times, when people raise their eyes and see the Tennesse Titans football field covered bus and me with my streak of gray hair, they stop whatever they were doing and connect. Comments and conversation flow; ‘Wow! That is a cool bus. What are you going to do with it? Is it for the festival? You drove him from Nashville? I’ve always wanted to do that!’ 9 times out of 10, it is magic—that 10th time, can be a bitch though.

4) Slow Down: Bubba doesn’t move fast; in fact, I rarely top 50 mph; and I know that is the opposite of fast. For me, driving Bubba requires a particular mindset; one that insists I slow down and I love it. I love crossing a bridge and seeing sailboats on the water, as opposed to white specks flashing by. I love noticing the difference in air temperature on that same bridge, the cool, crisp breeze in my face. I love the fresh scent of jasmine floating in my window and breathing deeply. I love seeing the mural-covered buildings, their vibrant colors dancing in the sun. I love reading signs along the road and children playing hopscotch on the sidewalks. I think everyone could use a little slowing down in today’s fast-paced environment. I love noticing the world around me and my life within it.

3) Be Present: Bubba the Bus weighs over 7,000 lbs., and he will top the scales at about 9,000 lbs., when he is converted into a #tinyhome. That is to say, that he can’t ‘stop on a dime’; but, I am continually amazed at how many people in their Prius’ or mini’s, think he can.  My head is on a swivel, as I watch for cars and lead-footed people to whiz by me on the right-hand side—(usually in the bike lane/sometimes nearly on a sidewalk); to get ahead of Bubba and I; especially getting onto the freeway. Perhaps they think I am in the ‘magic lane’, the one that is paved with rainbows and traffic whirs by at a dizzying speed. I send them good energy and when we meet again, at the next stoplight, toll plaza entrance or slow-down—(which is inevitable in the Bay Area)—I smile, wave and make sure my window is rolled down and sing along loudly with Tracy Lawrence, If The World Had  A Front Porch.

If the world had a front porch, like we did back then
We’d still have our problems, but we’d all be friends
Treatin’ your neighbor like he’s your next of kin, wouldn’t be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch, like we did back then
Treatin’ your neighbor like he’s your next of kin, wouldn’t be gone with the wind
If the world had a front porch, like we did back then….

I will admit, it is a little passive-aggressive. I am still working on #3.

2) Be Aware of your emotions:  I’m not going to lie; because I move slowly—(in the slow lane, no less); people get impatient and annoyed. Horns blare, fingers flip and epithets fly. Driving Bubba is a constant exercise in breathing deep, counting to 10 and releasing the urge to return like for like. In other words, not letting someone else’s anger, become mine. Some days, I am more successful than others; but, as my dad used to say, ‘anger is one letter short of danger.’ So, I breathe in, count and release.

1) Enjoy the Ride: There is so much I love about driving Bubba, but one of the most important things I have learned is to cure my destination disease. Live for today, less for tomorrow, and almost never about yesterday. I have to remind myself of this regularly. There is a difference between working toward the future, which is inherently enjoyable in the light of hope, and living in an unrealistic future that remains perpetually unknowable. If tomorrow never comes, would you be satisfied with the way today ended?

 I have learned to notice and enjoy all aspects of the ride. When a roadside attraction comes up on my horizon, I stop and see something I would never have noticed before; i.e.: the Flintstone house or the world’s largest ball of string.  I enjoy watching the ribbon of highway unroll in front of me and taking note of little towns along that ribbon that have names that give you a chuckle; Rough & Ready, Why and Climax. (Yes, these are real names.)

It is not how you start in life or how you finish. The true joy of life is in the trip, so enjoy the ride!

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