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Everyone is NOT nice!

4 November 2011

Even though Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, not a lot happens. At least nothing that would fall under the category of exciting, late and breaking news. The leading photo on the front page of Bergens Tidende might be the young boy who suffered an allergic reaction to the type of band-aids given to him at the doctor’s office. Often the story is simply: Nothing happened, but someone thought that something might happen! Which at least carries the beginnings of a real drama. Once a couple living near Danmarksplass called the police to report the frightening presence of several exotic! poisonous! snakes outside their window. How did an a band of illegal snakes wind up on the roof of a four-story apartment building? That was the question. Here are the actual photos, as sms-ed to the police and the newspaper, of these threatening creatures:

(Do I still need to add that an investigation into the matter discovered that the snakes were rubber? A neighbor had placed them there to scare away the bothersome pigeons.)

The short article that appeared on Wednesday with the headline, “Bus Driver Amok in Eidsvåg,” is in the running for my all-time favorite BT story, and it was actually good enough to make (small) headlines in yesterday’s national newspaper, Aftenposten. While the other reports in BT, though humorous, lead me to shake my head and say something like, “Only in Bergen,” Wednesday’s story is so inconceivable I still expect a retraction to appear claiming that it actually originated in an episode of The Three Stooges.

But let’s get on with the story.

At 2 p.m. – still broad daylight in November – the No. 39 bus left Åsane Terminal (the bus station where I live) headed for Bergen on a route that should have first gone through the area called Åstvedt. At the roundabout, however, the bus driver drove past the turnoff and straight onto the highway.

Several passengers informed the bus driver that he had taken the wrong route, and should have turned right at the roundabout. The bus driver responded that he didn’t have time to drive where he was supposed to. (An interesting claim in and of itself!)

One passenger asked to see the bus schedule and then pointed out to the driver that he was supposed to have turned onto Ervikvegen. The passenger, who was on crutches and had wanted to get off the bus on Ervikvegen, then asked the bus driver to let him off at a stop along the highway.

This prompted another passenger to shout that it would still be too far for the man on crutches to walk, and that he should take a taxi and send the bill to the bus company! (Not a bad idea.)

A loud quarrel then broke out between the passengers and the bus driver, which one passenger described as “uncomfortable when the bus was going 80 km/hr.”

The bus driver stopped along the highway at Eidsvåg and the passenger on crutches got off the bus, taking the bus schedule with him.

The angry bus driver then got off the bus, slung the man with the crutches onto the ground, and then, if you can believe it, grabbed back the bus schedule.

The other passengers, understandably terrified, refused to stay on the bus with the crazy driver and also tried to get off at the Eidsvåg stop. The bus driver then began closing the doors in an attempt to lock them in. The passenger, however, were able to hold the doors open until everyone got safely off.

Tide Bus company pulled the driver off the route and said they are now interested to hear the bus driver’s version of the events.

I read the story three or four times – had I in fact understood it correctly? A bus driver in Bergen had done this? Really? He refused to drive his route, threw a man with crutches to the ground, seized the bus schedule, and then tried to imprison the other passengers on the bus?

Since then I have been checking the internet for updates — what is this other version of events? But no further information has been given, leaving me to speculate about the identity of this strange and possibly deranged man.

Was he old and grumpy and simply looking forward to going home to his lapskaus dinner? Was he one of the controversial eighteen-year-old drivers that Tide has said they had to hire because of a decrease in driver applications? Did a shrunken head fling this way and that above his driver’s seat, like the one in the Night Bus in Harry Potter?

Whatever the case, it has become clear that everyone is not nice! And I, for one, am disappointed.

But a horrifying thought has just come to me: The follow-up article will report that the bus driver, an older man with no previous history of violence, who had calmly walked away after a woman accidentally spilled an entire bottle of olive oil on his pants a few weeks ago, finally snapped.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeff permalink
    4 November 2011 13:52

    Wow, that is pretty crazy. I still haven’t gotten used to how polite the bus drivers are here (e.g., waiting for all the passengers to sit down before they start driving), but clearly there are a few crazies out there. I’m still trying to figure out how an entire bottle of olive oil could be spilled on the bus driver though, that has to be a gooder of a story in itself.

    • 4 November 2011 14:08

      Unfortunately that is a reference to ME! In a previous blogpost titled “Everyone is nice” I wrote about how I dropped a glass bottle of olive oil in line at the grocery store and its contents completely covered the older gentleman in front of me. Here I was imagining that they were the same person, that the bus driver was this kind, quiet man who finally went ballistic! 🙂 I’ve added a link to that story in the post, but here it is if you want to read it:

      I never thought about the fact that bus drivers here wait for everyone to sit down — but you are right! How funny. He probably had time to wait for everyone to sit down, but NOT time to drive the right route!

      • Jeff permalink
        4 November 2011 14:14

        Ooohhhhh right! I totally misunderstood what you had written (I had read that previous post, but I have the memory of a goldfish…). I was imagining a passenger getting on the bus and standing there pouring a bottle of olive oil on the driver’s lap, while he gingerly waits for you to finish and sit down so he can continue his route. Ha, what a hilarious story I’ve concocted in my head!

  2. 4 November 2011 14:16

    Now that WOULD be a good story! 🙂 I decided to add the link after I read your comment because many people might not make that connection. Just because it’s a story that is always going through my mind every day, every time I enter a grocery store, doesn’t mean everyone else is constantly thinking about it!

  3. 9 December 2011 08:57

    I got on an empty bus in Bergen (actually at Hordvikneset) and the driver asked me if I knew the route. I didn’t, but at the next stop, he asked the next passenger to board the bus if they knew the route. They did and so directed him – all the way to Åsane Terminal.
    I was not really aware that drivers waited for everyone to sit down. Certainly it has not been my experience.
    However it does seem to take a very long time for passengers to pay the driver. The fare collection system that the bus company uses seems amazingly complicated. The buses might run quicker and the drivers could spend more time on taking the correct route if they used a system similar to the one in operation in London. There is a flat fare for each bus journey and passengers use pre-loaded cash cards (“Oyster Cards”) to pay by just holding the card in front of the reader. There is a small display showing how much fare has been deducted and how much money is left on the card. Quick and simple.

    • 13 December 2011 10:45

      That’s completely crazy! But then again, I just remembered that I got a bus recently driven by a woman who looked 16 (smacking on her gum and all) and I asked her if the bus was going to town and she said, “Vettche” (short teenage form for “I don’t know”).

      But you should definitely come and see Bergen again – We have a whole new bus system with brand new buses that show the next stop! And they are putting in new bus stops everywhere that are glass-enclosed and actually have the name of the stop written on them. So now even the little stop out near us says “Viddalen” on the front. We have day cards, week cards, month cards, cash cards AND automatic readers (which are, of course, never working, so there are lots of free rides to be had!) They have talked about raising the cash price to 37 kr. to discourage people from paying in cash. The card price is 20 I think.

      So – quick and simple here we come! 🙂 One day this place will be running as smoothly as London. Hah.

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