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06 September 2010

Chronicles of a Kombi Crew

When I still in crèche, I wanted to be a bus conductor. The thought of spending the whole of my working life riding up and down the country thrilled me, especially considering these guys never had their moms screaming at them to sit down when the bus started moving. Of course, I changed my mind ages ago. In Primary School I decide to aim higher - I wanted to pilot a plane.

I hardly think today’s kids ever dream of being conductors or drivers. They all want to be Akons and Shakiras (you should attend any kindergarten party to see the type of music they are ‘whining’ to). Apparently, this profession has lost appeal even in the feeblest of minds.

However, a recent discussion I heard in a kombi made me spare a thought for the people in this industry. It was invoked by a woman who tactlessly cared to comment that this profession, compared to a number of other jobs, wasn’t all that hard to do. The kombi conductor and driver didn’t take this lying down: they decided to defend their livelihoods with only two, but well articulated points.

The first point brought forward was that the most difficult jobs in the world involved dealing with the public…and a kombi crew is high up there in the customer service sector. You get to be yelled at by a number of people letting off steam from their own personal problems, and you get to do an awfully lot of yelling back at people who fail to perform the basics of riding on a kombi.

Take, for example, the guy who gets into a kombi, pulls down an ‘aisle seat’ before the back seat gets filled and sits there. I’ve seen it happening myself and I got to say, it doesn’t make any sense unless you intend to pay for all the empty spaces behind you. Then there is the guy that gets in, waits for the kombi to fill up, pulls out his brand new G-tide and starts playing music full blast, impairing other passengers' attempts at conversation, and even drowning out the car radio. Wouldn’t that just give you a headache?

The second point involves the long hours put in by most kombi crews. This particular kombi crew stated that they wake up at around 4.a.m and usually drop of the last customer close to 9.p.m after an exhausting day…and we are talking 7 days a week. The conductor probably gets the worst of it since he has to awkwardly hang at the door for the duration of the journey. This can be particularly torturous in a small kombi and is probably going to create a new health disorder,  ‘Curved Back Syndrome’ or something.

The long working hours also mean these guys have no social life. The conductor stressed this by saying that he doesn’t even drink anymore since he would simply doze off on the bar counter before the first drink. He woefully added, “This other day, I held my 8 month old child and she cried, she didn’t know who I was.” Tragic, really.

Just a glimpse into the day of a kombi crew. I am not saying you should start teaching your children to want to be kombi drivers and conductors when they grow up. I am just encouraging you all to spare a thought for the humble kombi crew next time you are commuting.

1 comment:

MORSET said...

That's so true. there's also a group of problematic passengers who shout out their bus stops when the kombi is already passing the stop spot. Not forgetting the issue of coins. Sometimes people seem to forget to put themselves in other people's shoes. Personally, I think the issue that pisses me off is the issue of passengers who play their G-TIDE/SMADL phones so loud that everyone in the kombi just has to listen to their music/noise.

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