Buying our beautiful bus was a big step. A huge step.
Qualifying for my HR license, however, is possibly even bigger. I couldn’t just buy it: I had to earn it.
Now I can see our future clear as day. In my head, next year’s Big Lap adventure has begun to write itself.
My mate, Luke, and I spent a full day driving around the Tewantin area with Dale, my driving instructor from Heavy Vee. I chose Heavy Vee because their website said they had a 99% success rate.
“You’ll be wanting to quickly book another 99 people if you want to maintain those stats,” I suggested. I meant it too.
In the end, though, it wasn’t driving a longer, wider, heavier vehicle which was my biggest hurdle. It was thirty years of bad habits.
“Do you know you’re speeding? That’s a fail,” said Dale calmly as we drove around.
“Hey Tracey,” I said to my wife when I arrived home from a day of giggling. I mean, driver training. “When you’re in a 60 zone and the sign says 80 you can’t do 80 until you get to it. And I don’t just mean you can be doing 70 and accelerating,” I added, helpfully putting a road block to that idea before it took hold. “I mean you can’t go above 60 until you get to the sign.”
“I’ve told you that,” said Tracey.
“Every day since we got married,” she said, sounding suddenly exhausted. Which could explain why it sounded vaguely familiar when the instructor pulled me up on it.
This wasn’t the only bad habit I had to iron out either.
“I’m actually really pleased I’m going for this license,” I said chattily to the tester as I negotiated a turn in a spectacularly sensible and boring fashion, “because I’ve learned a lot about roundabouts. Turns out I haven’t been doing them…,” at this point it occurred to me I may not be doing myself any favours and should probably focus at least as much on keeping my mouth shut as I was on obeying the road rules, “…let’s say good.”
When we arrived back at the Dept of Transport, Dale and Luke were keen to hear how I thought I’d done.
“No good,” I shrugged. I explained I’d stuffed it right at the beginning when I performed a near perfect reverse around a corner only to take off with the hazard lights on. “But he let me keep driving,” I went on, “which was great because that’s more practice for my next attempt.”
“The hazard lights thing isn’t an immediate fail,” Dale surprised me by saying.
Genuinely thought I’d stuffed it up completely and irretrievably at that point, which was the only reason I relaxed for the rest of the test, and relaxing was why I didn’t make more mistakes.
In an office inside, the tester seemed to think I wasn’t an obvious risk to other motorists and let me pass, despite my attempts to convince him otherwise with several driving misdemeanours which he pointed out to me.
I am now officially a bus driver. Me!!
I didn’t hug the instructor, because it occurred to me that might be considered a little chummy, but in my excitement I did shake his hand three times.
So this morning I gathered all the kids into our Hino bus for our first bus trip together, albeit around the block. There was squealing (kids) and giggling (me) and calls for seatbelts (Tracey), and then we were ready to jump the gutter and be off.
“This is what we’ll be doing every couple of days FOR A YEAR!” I declared dramatically, turning the key in the expectation of the big diesel engine roaring into life.
Flat bloody battery.
Yep, I suspect this is our future alright.
On the bright side, it should give me lots to write about.
Raising a family on little more than laughs.