I started thinking about buses one day. I’m not sure why, but then I started thinking about that Who song which led me to exploring the history of the bus.
Yeah, that’s how my mind works and boy, it’s exciting inside my head some days, as obvious from my thinking about buses.
A Brief History of Buses
I found out that a guy named Blaise Pascal, which is weirdly close to the word, blasé, also French, meaning, “apathetic to pleasure or excitement as a result of excessive indulgence or enjoyment.”
I can picture Pascal, after a week of excessive indulgence.
“Que puis-je faire? Je suis fatigué et j’ai besoin d’un bus et d’un chauffeur,” he says, pensively and with defeat (because there was no bus then.) And then, a ampoule française (French lightbulb) goes on over his head and he exclaims, “Je vais inventer un!”
For those of you who do not speak French (I don’t either, but Google’s English to French translator is great and that’s what I used, so I’m certain it all makes sense to a French person or someone who actually knows French), here is the translation of what Pascal was thinking that day:
“What can I do? I’m tired and I need a bus and a driver. I’m going to invent one!”
And so he does in 1662 (at least the beginning of the thought of a bus to carry more than a few people) and it was called a carriage. All the other over-indulgent people could flag it down, after an evening of excessive indulging, without stumbling around on all those cobblestones in Paris.
Fast forward to a businessman, Stanislas Baudry, in Nantes (another French city & French guy) in the 1800s who invents the omnibus (Latin word for “for all”) because he had to figure out a way to take all those over-indulging, blasé French guys from the bathhouses (he also invented bathhouses since steam technology was big at that time) back and forth. It (the bus idea) caught on and not just for people who liked bathhouses, but everyone.
According to my extensive research, he made some serious coin by doing this since the bathhouse “bus” led to his inventing the omnibus which expanded into Bordeaux, then to Lyon and finally to Paris. Each bus held 16-20 people and he charged 25 centimes which if you’d like to do the math, 1/20 of a franc equals 5 centimes. I’m not doing it, so if you know the answer, please list in the comments below.
Mainly the middle-class used it (since rich Parisians had their own method of transportation) and no drunks, dogs or poorly-dressed Parisians were allowed to ride on the omnibus. The conductor had the say on this and of course, women weren’t on board (literally and figuratively) at first either. But they eventually did get on the omnibus. Single females were discouraged from traveling alone, because you know what that obviously meant.
“Sacré bleu, femme, pensez à votre réputation! Descends de ce bus maintenant!,” the conductor would say, waving his hands in a dismissive French way.
Translation: Holy sh*t, woman, think of your reputation! Get off this bus now!
After that, came the double decker buses, steam buses, trolley buses, trams, then motor coaches, electric buses, hybrid electric, fuel cell, compressed natural gas (NO! sounds dangerous), Gyrobuses (no longer here but energy came from flywheel energy storage — I know!), and finally diesel-powered buses, which are what most buses are today, according to Wikipedia. I’m not a bus expert, just a curious bus researcher.
The aforementioned buses are most likely out of order, but I figured I’d better get to some kind of point (if you’re still here) after reading my riveting exploration of how buses got started, in the first place.
A Long Strange Trip
Thanks for getting on board with me and my bus story. If I invented a bus, I’d make it a magic one where anyone who boarded automatically had to say hello to all the others on board. Make eye contact. Smile and acknowledge. Texting wouldn’t work while you were on it, nor would any other forms of social media. We’d all have to talk and listen. No selfies until after you got off the bus. You’d have to actually enjoy the moment you were in. Once you left the bus at your stop, the bus would pause so that you could take a selfie, put cute happy emojis with it and send it out to all your “friends” where hopefully they would “like” it.
Everyone would look to the bus in order to work things out.
Also, whenever you spoke on the bus, you’d sing. (It’s a magic bus after all). Even if you try to sing “angry,” it still makes people smile. Maybe if we sang to each other, we could smile at each other more often.
Just a thought.
I want it, I want it. But apparently I can’t have it. I think that’s why eventually we all become, well blasé, about the whole thing of trying to communicate. Communication takes effort and the willingness to understand.
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If you could invent a magic bus, what would yours be like?
And yeah, here’s the Who song. You had to know it was coming.