Friday, 27 January 2006

What is in this black box?

This little black box is my module. It is the ticket machine's memory. Each morning when I get to work the first thing I do is put it in the depot ticket reader and 'Sign it on'. It now holds all the fares and fare stages for all the route both here and in Exeter. Not that I ever work in Exeter. Now I don't have to remember all those fares. Over 500 on the twelve route alone. It also has a calendar and clock in there ticking away. It is probable the third most important piece of a bus driver's equipment, after the bus and his trousers, and is never left lying around.

Well on Wednesday morning I had an appointment at Torbay Hospital to see an eye specialist at 9:00 am. No problem, I didn't start work till 11:32. I did phone in the day before to warn them that there was a slight possibility that I may be late, so they were prepared if necessary .
When I got to the hospital the doctor needed to dilate my eyes. As he put the drops in he warned me that I would be unable to drive for 3 hours. Not to worry, the spare driver could take the bus to Newton and back, takes about an hour, and I could continue from there.

The eye exam revealed nothing serious, just something that can happen as one approaches middle age (my words, the doc said some thing with the word old in it). So I got to work at 10:30, two hours before I could drive. I explained my problem to the controller who said what all controllers say at this point, "First I've heard of it, mate."

Any way, a volunteer was found to take the bus to Newton and I wandered off to have a cup of coffee and a listen to the new iPod, a late Christmas present. At 12:20 I wandered down to pick up my bus. When I had hung my coat on the hook provided, all mod cons on our buses, and the cash tray on the hooks provided I placed the module in the ticket machine and seeing that the road behind was clear I set off for Brixham. It was then that I noticed the words "Not Signed On." on the display screen on the ticket machine. Hanging about for two hours and the module was no use what so ever to me. All those fares and fare stages, the clock and the calendar locked away for lack of a four digit number I should have used to sign it on as soon as I walked in the office.

No problem, it was quiet and I could sign on in Paignton. All I had to do was use my emergency tickets, it does take about 3 times as long to issue an emergency ticket but hopefully there wouldn't be too many people getting on to day and I know most of the fares. First two were easy, return into town, £1.95. Then in Union Street there was a queue stretching round the block. The first half dozen people had return tickets any way. Then a slight problem, 3 returns to the new college. No idea of the fare so I had to go on Radio Stagecoach and ask. £3.65. A couple of single ticket and a return. Then someone pointed out that the date was 25th. OMG. I had been writing 24th on all the emg tickets. I managed to get most of them back but because there were 3 people out there with tickets that appeared to be out of date I had to got public and tell control what had happened and would any driver getting a ticket dated yesterday would they please accept them. I never heard any one ask so all the tickets must have been OK.
Once I got to Paignton I signed the module on and the rest of the day went as most other days do; after an interesting start.


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