The Bus Driver
How one man's actions created positive reactions in everyday commuters
WRITTEN BY PLAYROOM project coordinator
My bus route is the same every day. There are seven stops between Carl Berner and Bislett Stadium - one of Oslo's most trafficked routes. Like me, most commuters travel with music in their ears and have their eyes firmly planted on the screen - ignoring the rest of the people on the bus as we are transported from point a to point b. Routine. Then one day, something happenned that had a positive impact to the atmosphere on the bus, and brightened everyone’s day in the process.
"Now the band has arrived!" Says the bus driver when a man with a guitar case hops on the bus. "So nice you move in!" the driver shouts at the next stop when a guy gets on the bus with a pile of moving bags. At each stop, there is a new comment on the loudspeaker system in the bus. All the stoney faces in the bus suddenly look up from their screens and start looking at each other. Is the bus driver joking at every stop? Suddenly the invisible walls between us all are torn away. This is fun!
"Look, there is someone running, lets drive away from them!" “Should there be a beauty discount?" The man behind the wheel makes comments that completely change the atmosphere throughout the bus. We are all in a small “event” together, on our way to work, as the driver puts on a show for us. Suddenly we have something to talk about. We have a common experience.
Sometimes so little is needed to do something that evokes a reaction in people, creating a whole new setting. The bus driver, Per Bakke, became a local celebrity as a result of his actions and he made the national newspapers for his witty, warming comments. Sadly Per passed away this year but his small contribution did not go unnoticed, each journey Per made was Tweeted and Instagramed - with many sharing the joy it brought them.
Per Bakke is not alone in turning an everyday job into something much bigger. Brazilian street cleaner Renato Luiz Lourenço Feliciano, known as Renato Sorriso, is now "world famous" for dancing through the streets of Rio de Janeiro collecting garbage, after becoming the face of the Rio 2016 Olympics. London Underground worker Leon Tsui also made the news in the UK when he used his friendly, engaging personality to brighten up the moods of commuters who faced weeks of walking down broken escalators in Walthamstow station. Leon became known locally on social media as "The Ecalator Guy" and his daily “performances” became so successful that the London Underground later installed him at Brixton station when the escalators there were under refurbishment.
These three men turned clouds into sunshine. It just goes to show that with the right actions, you can create the right atmosphere on any platform.