We’ve all had ’em — those days when you go in to work and just feel like high-tailing it in the other direction, for reasons that are difficult to quantify as they are to ignore.
Work — who the hell came up with this idea? Does anyone, on their deathbed, lament not putting in enough hours on the job? Is selling away time you can’t get back in exchange for money you can’t take with you when you’re gone a fair deal no matter how much (or, is far more common in this day and age, how little) you’re being paid?
We all know the answer to these questions, of course. And yet most of us turn up at 9:00am (or whenever), clock in, and get down to business — and, more often than not, it’s someone else’s business we’re getting down to. But if you’re in the right position, whether you realize it consciously most days or not, creative re-appropriation of the tools available to you at your job can also provide, should you finally break in that direction, your liberation from it. Which brings us — finally, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself — to writer Anthony Perillo and artist Pat Aulisio’s new mini (self-published under Aulisio’s Yeah Dude Comics imprint), The Bus Driver.
The protagonist in this one doesn’t have a blinding “Road To Damascus” moment or anything — he just does what almost every one of us has the urge to do at some point. He says “fuck it” (as seen above) and splits. In the city bus that he drives for a “living.”
I’m actually shocked this hasn’t, to my knowledge, happened in real life yet. The practicalities of the occupation make it an easy enough one to ditch out on. You can probably make it a pretty fair distance before the bus company would even know what the fuck was going on. There’s honestly just as much reason for a driver to go for it as there is for him or her not to. And when you factor in a complex situation on the home front (again, the page shown above provides a good clue), our titular driver finally has reason to stop ignoring his “inner voice” and hit freedom road.
Where it goes from there I’ll leave it for you to discover, suffice to say Perillo’s story is a mix of the expected and the far less so, of big moments and smaller, more intimate ones. It all makes for a solid enough narrative (sorry for this, but) ride, and Aulisio’s art, while somewhat restrained (relatively speaking) here in comparison to his trademark “gonzo” sci-fi fare, matches the subject matter perfectly and puts the emphasis right where it should be: on the grit, the grime, the ugliness of a world where everybody has to effing work.
Unless and until they realize they don’t need or want to anymore. You might guess this whole thing is pre-destined to end in tears — and maybe it is (again, I won’t give it away), but let’s say, purely for the sake of argument, that it does: Wouldn’t it still be worth it? Isn’t a short period of autonomy and self-determination in your life better than none at all?
For a comic that extols the virtues of taking this job and shoving it, The Bus Driver puts in overtime by asking some very profound questions.
You really need to check out this mini, so order it up for five bucks from Birdcage Bottom Books at https://birdcage-bottom-books.myshopify.com/products/the-bus-driver