Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Replacing the indicator light.

The bus had just arrived outside the bus garage and the drivers had just changed over ready to continue what is, for me, another hour bus journey. As a matter of protocol, the incoming bus driver went through a process of checking the bus. It was a well-drilled process which he had obviously done many times before. The trouble was that this process seemed to be taking longer than usual. After about five minutes, the driver got out, returned and got onto his cell-phone. The right-rear indicator was not working.

Clearly, it was impossible for the bus to proceed with such a vital little light out of action. Fortunately within 15 minutes and engineer had returned with a new indicator light and within 5 minutes we were off again - late, but away.

Rather an insignificant an event, you might think - a frustration for bus passengers, but on the cosmological scale, merely a blip in the eternal bus-timetable.

It did set me thinking though. That careful ritual that the driver performs means that the bus he drives is as safe as could reasonably be. The driver, fully aware that he has a duty of care for his passengers knows the importance for checking all the little lights and gadgets to ensure full safety, and that safety ranks higher on his list of priorities than getting the bus around the route on time.

It also means that this assiduous and thoroughly professional chap earned the trust of his passengers. Though we might be 20 minutes late, we were assured that we would arrive in one piece. Perhaps that's a lesson for us in our impatience with public transport. I know that I can be terribly impatient when the train does not arrive on time, but the duty of care (whether genuine or forced by legal pressure) of employees gives them better priorities. While one or two might be on the indolent side, I feel that I can trust the system the public transport has in place for ensuring my safety.

Now what of Cof E Bishops and Priests with the care of my soul?


1 comment:

Nicholas Jackson said...

The correct calibration and maintenance of a bus' indicator lights may be important to the safety of the passengers, but it's even more vital to the safety of other road users. (I've had some particularly scary cycling experiences when a bus has apparently not noticed I'm there.)

Similarly, if a church is being run by a group of, in some way, insufficiently careful priests and bishops, then that's potentially bad for the members of that church (although I do find it difficult to believe that a just god would hold a sincere parishioner responsible for the actions of a theologically mistaken priest). But it can also be bad for those of us who aren't members of that church, but who get affected by the actions of its members.

A lot of the current furore over "aggressive atheism" is really just a matter of other road users standing up and saying "could you get your indicators fixed before you kill us all?" Granted, there are elements on both sides who are overstepping the mark somewhat: I find some of the things Richard Dawkins says to be just as objectionable as many of the Pope's recent pronouncements (although on balance I tend to agree with more of the things Dawkins says). But I think most of the aggressive preaching comes from the religious side of the fence: certainly I've never been accosted by evangelical atheists, whereas I get harangued by someone shouting and waving a bible on a moderately regular basis.

From the point of view of another road user, I have to say that these days, British Christianity is generally a pretty responsible driver (although it's had its moments over the past few hundred years). But I get a little worried by some of the things I hear from other parts of the world.