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Road Sage

Looking to live outside the law? Become a tour bus driver Add to ...

Ever wanted to be above the law? You know, do whatever you like behind the wheel without reprimand, fine or incarceration?

For most, this is a distant dream. If the average motorist leaves his car parked illegally, even for a few minutes, he’ll get a ticket. On my street, you get a ticket just for having out-of-province plates. The parking cop leaves a yellow slip (even if you have a valid permit) assuming that a visitor won’t dispute the ticket even though it’s bogus.

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It’s persecution.

Well, dear reader, there is a way to drive with impunity. You can drive how you want, park how you want, jam up traffic whenever you want, and never even get a sideways glance. Anyone can and it’s not as difficult as you think.

All you have to do is drive a tour bus.

That’s right – a tour bus.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Have you ever seen a tour bus obey the law?

2. Have you ever seen a tour bus get a ticket?

3. Have you ever seen a tour bus driver suffer any kind of driving-related repercussion?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re either a pathological liar or merely trying lying out for the first time.

Think about it. How many times do you find yourself stuck in traffic with no sign of construction or accident in sight and yet lanes are blocked and no one is moving? When you finally reach the nexus of the congestion what do you find? A tour bus parked lazily in a no-stopping, no-parking zone.

Anyone else blocking traffic would be worried, but the tour bus driver (dressed in the sort of uniform one normally finds on a corrupt southern sheriff) stands laconically, safe in the knowledge that nothing will ever happen to him. He is a made man in every sense of the word. No law can touch him; no consequences befall him, for he is a tour bus driver, king of the road.

He’s probably talking to a police officer.

“Hello Tour Bus Driver, how’s it going?”

“Fine, officer. I’m just closing down a street during rush hour while I wait for my slot-machine zombie passengers to stagger on to my bus so I can shuttle them to the nearest regional casino like lambs to the slaughter.”

“Well, you’re a tour bus driver so you can do what you want. Have a nice day.”

What can the cop do? Have it towed? The cost would be enormous. No police force could afford it. They could give the driver a ticket, but their company would probably pay it. If not, the city would waive it. I can’t prove this, but I am certain that tour bus drivers actually take up smoking just so they can light cigarettes with parking tickets.

The thing of it is – tour buses carry tourists and tourists carry money. That’s why in every major city tour buses have their own special reserved spaces. The City of Toronto states, “In recognizing the importance of the motor coach tour industry to the City and the significant number of school groups arriving by bus to attend cultural and sporting events in the central area, the City of Toronto has identified approximately 75 parking spaces exclusively for use by buses. ...”

How nice.

Now, I would never suggest such economic interests could sway law enforcement. Still, if traffic cops started cracking down on tour bus drivers, the tour bus companies might make life difficult for the rich hotel chains and the grasping politicians and, if life gets tough for the rich hotel chains and the grasping politicians, well – you get my drift.

So the tour bus driver does as he pleases. He does what he wants when he wants how he wants with nary a predator in sight. He is the raccoon of the urban automotive ecosystem.

You’d think that tour buses would be a localized menace. Like the yellow jacket wasps that are found by trash cans at amusement parks; that tour buses would be restricted to the following areas: outside hotels, casino parking lots, sports and music venues. Then there might be a chance to avoid them.

Nope. Tour buses are everywhere blocking everything.

Back in the 1990s, you could take some comfort in knowing that at least everyone on the tour bus was miserable. The seats were uncomfortable, the air quality was something out of a Ray Bradbury story and the one toilet was so filthy that, given the choice, most passengers elected to defecate in their pants. Now they have televisions in them and drinks are served. So that slender bit of solace is gone.

I hate a love/hate relationship with tour buses. You see, I wave at them. I wave at those sightseeing tourist double deckers that course through the downtown. I do it for perverse reasons. The tour bus passengers all look so surprised and they wave back. Wow, they think, what a friendly city! They have no idea what a misanthropic, hateful entity I am. For a few brief seconds, I seem like a nice person. I’m living a double life. It’s exhilarating.

Still, this moral hiccup doesn’t stop me from resenting tour bus drivers. Sometimes it’s fun to imagine I am a parking ticket officer and that the system is set up like 19th-century whaling industry. I’m Captain Ahab hellbent on getting Moby Dick – the most egregious tour bus on the road. Moby Dick is a casino-bound bus that blocks streets and double parks and even stops up entire intersections. I vow to one day issue him a $300 ticket and I roam the streets in my Ford Escort searching for that elusive whale of a bus that closed down Yonge Street for 30 minutes on a Friday.

But I never get him. How could I? Even in dreams, the tour bus driver reigns supreme. The motorized whale always wins.

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

Please send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy

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