I was twenty minutes late for work this morning. When I knew I was destined to be late, I was only ten minutes late. But fate conspired against me and made me later still.
And, on top of that, when we eventually got into Leeds I really wanted a sandwich for breakfast because I was on the unhappy side of hungry, only to find the entire complex where I would purchase said foodstuff had been evacuated due to a fire alarm.
The cosmos was not on my side this morning. And its main tool of destruction? Squeaky Steering.
Which apparently is a thing.
A thing which can instill fear into the heart of probably one of the wettest bus drivers I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter. He was certainly no Man-Who-Looks-Like-Whoopi-Goldberg-In-Jumping-Jack-Flash, that is for sure.
So, yes, squeaky steering. Basically, as I heard the driver explaining on the phone during one of the many stops we made due to panic, the bus was ok when it was being driven, it was just when he went to turn corners that the steering wheel squeaked.
From the time I got on the bus to the time I got off in Leeds, we had stopped to further worry about this squeak 6 times. On five of those occasions we had listened to the driver call it in to base and express his worry, and on one occassion a driver from an adjacent bus came to give a second opinion. At one point we left Dewsbury Bus Station to head to Leeds, only to immediately turn off and come back into Dewsbury Bus Station from a different direction because there was definitely something wrong with the bus.
“I’m just wondering,” said the driver at one point, “if there’s something I should have pressed, a switch or something that I’ve forgotten and that’s why this is happening.”
This made me think two things. One, that the driver didn’t really know what he was doing and at best could have been described as winging it. And two, that “squeaky steering” has some kind of toggle switch so you can have it turned on or off depending on the journey – like you can with a passenger airbag when you have a baby seat in the front of your car.
Having been on a bus that basically exploded out from under us, I think a bit of a squeak was nothing to worry about. What it did serve to do was unite an entire bus full of strangers into chanting expletives like some sort of cult every time we pulled over for an unscheduled stop and a further maintenance-based phone call.