Friday, February 24, 2012

[February 24th, Culture of Bulgaria] The Bulgarian Bus Conductor

Riding the bus in Bulgaria is one of the unique daily activities, which you will probably not have the chance to experience anywhere else in the world, except maybe in other Eastern European countries. I'm a fan of bus rides so I don't mind the ceaseless waiting for one. It's all part of the thrill I get from the chase and prowl. 

Buses being late is not an uncommon event, but Bulgarian bus drivers take it upon themselves to elevate lateness to an art form. If you take it upon yourselves to visit Bulgaria, you don't need to read a single time table, because even the bus drivers have no idea when they will arrive. 

Now once this is out of the way, I'll talk about the Bulgarian bus 'conductor'. When you think of a conductor, you picture an opera hall. However, in Bulgarian, a conductor is the person, who sells tickets in the bus. Now, in most countries to the West and I'm certain in some to the East, this job has long since been handed over to our future overlords, the machines. Here, not so much. 

The conductor is low-paid, has one of the most unappealing job descriptions in the world and conversations with them are rather dull. These grannies or aunties [yes, the most unappealing job positions in Bulgaria are all reserved for the ladies; feel special] have probably suffered quite a bit to end up on this end of the employment spectrum. I don't expect them to care that I don't know which stop is which [still happens to me] or that the bus has come half an hour late [while outside is -20 C], but the way these women look at you oozes accusation. 

It's as if every passenger is personally responsible for their predicament. They don't want you to talk to them and they don't want to talk to you. They frown, if you give them a bill larger than 5 BGN. They shout, if you ask them why the bus is late, and they never ever seem to know anything. So basically the bonuses of having live-human interaction with conductor are non-existent. 

What you do get out of the whole thing is a ticket and a mild case of emotional abuse.