Coach driving for me has always felt more like a way of life than a job. From the moment I was informed that I was going to be taking a school party to Barcelona with just four days notice, something inside made me feel like I had discovered my niche in life. Bus driving was ok, but it wasn’t something that made want to jump out of bed each time my alarm went off for work. I simply didn’t feel like I was going to enjoy my day. Bus driving paid the bills but wasn’t inspiring for me. For those that do enjoy driving buses for a living is fine of course, it just wasn’t for me.
The day came when it was time to head off on my first long distance European adventure with another three drivers on two coaches, and boy was I excited. I had only ever driven abroad once so I was a bit nervous, and of course hoping it didn’t show in front of the other drivers. Acting cool and as if the trip was just a job was soon washed away when I met a guy who was to become a firm friend and colleague. He said to me straight “You are only on this job because another driver was taken ill and he will be off long term sick. Muck this job up in any way whatsoever and cause any problems and you will never drive a coach for this company again”. I kind of gulped quite hard and felt immediately under pressure and a little bit confused as to why he would have reason to speak to me like that. It was as if I had already done something wrong and now I was thinking that this 10 day tour was going to be an absolute drag. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go after that! That very soon changed over the duration of the trip….
Dave Cooper cared, he cared passionately about his career and of his own reputation as a top notch coach driver and he instilled something in me that continues on to this day. My initiation on that tour led to Dave and I becoming working partners and he took me to places I could have only dreamed I would get to see. Lake Garda was, and still is, a particular favourite and I hope to go back there whenever the opportunity arises, hint hint! He showed me locations around Europe – most of which I had never heard of. I absolutely loved working with Dave and being educated by his never ending knowledge of the places we were taking tourists to visit. Dave saw something in me which he picked up on and took the decision to make me his driving buddy.
We still keep in touch after over 25 years. He was what we know as ‘old school’. I guess at 50 years old I’m classed ‘old school’ now. Where does the time go?!
I do get frustrated at times with the new style of Sat Nav drivers that do not carry the same philosophies as I do. I guess it is a sign of changing times, and maybe the new technology hasn’t helped our industry. Dont get me wrong, I think it is great as an aide to a knowledgable driver and can alert to unexpected road works, accidents etc, but for me it just isn’t the same as planning your route.
Please, if you are reading this small snippet of my initiation story, go out and buy a couple of decent maps and plan your routes and destinations., even if just to see if it gives you the same satifaction it gives me. You also learn nice places to stop along route. Passengers love an informative, as well as safe and confident driver, that comes across as being skilled in their vocation. It really does matter!
I gained a lot of extra work due to my Transport Managers having faith in me, because they knew I would research my private hire and tours properly, which in turn would mean return business for the companies, and request work for me. I have met a very diverse group of people over the years, many of which I am honoured to call friends that I socialise with regularly. If you are reading this you know who your are!
The above snippet of my history is why I am now involved with driver CPC training, to pass on my passionate affair with our industry, and the reason why I still like to get out on the road every so often. So that I can continue to empathise, and keep up to date with the challenges drivers face each and every day.
If you have periods when you require an ‘old school’ driver to look after your customers, then please give me a shout to see if I am available. Please give me as much notice as possible because I have a very busy diary! I am rarely available to take on emergency work unfortunately, but you can always ask the question when the situation arises.