Meng Dapeng at work on February 3, 2020 (LIU RUI)
While most people on Chinese New Year's Eve focus on their big reunion dinners, in the case of Meng Dapeng, a bus driver in Beijing, it is a normal working day. The day consists of completing a full inspection of the vehicle, keeping a cautious eye on things and taking his passengers from stop to stop, a routine Meng has stuck to for 10 years.
"At the end of the day, I will park the bus at the terminal, sign off, and then go home. It gives me a sense of ritually ushering in a new year," Meng told Beijing Review.
To make things run smoothly, the seasoned driver studies the route, meets the timetables, and drives safely in the city's heavy traffic. In addition, he must also supervise those on board and make sure no risky behavior occurs.
Passengers are familiar with Meng's voice: "Please wear your masks, sit down and hold on." "When the road is bumpy, a sudden brake may make people fall. A reminder can prevent that and make passengers pay more attention to their safety," he said.
Meng goes about his daily tasks in an unfazed manner. Dedicated to his job, he puts his best effort into every detail to ensure everyone reaches their destinations safely.
Meng also has a special, deeper, emotional connection with being a bus driver: His father was one as well.
"When I was a kid, my father was always working on Lunar New Year's Eve. So, for my family, the time of the reunion dinner was changed to the next morning, on the first day of the new year," he said. After his father retired, the family was finally able to spend New Year's Eve together.
Several years later, however, Meng became a bus driver. "So most years, one member is absent at our New Year's Eve dinner table; we're used to it," Meng said, smilingly.
Born into a family with two generations of bus drivers, Meng's 8-year-old son also has an interest in public transport and has expressed his dream of one day becoming a driver. Despite disagreeing with his son's idea, Meng thinks that there will be massive changes and developments in the next decades. "In the future, I hope that he will become active in scientific research such as unmanned driving, bus design and material mechanics," he said.
In his spare time, Meng is busy researching safe driving and passenger psychology, and plans to publish a collection of articles he has been compiling. "I have a wonderful time at my job," he said.
(Print Edition Title: ONE MAN'S DRIVE)
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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