Believe it or not, Santa is a bus driver. More exactly, he drives the Start Bus that goes between Jackson and Teton Village every half hour. More exactly, the Green Line. You may wonder: how is this important or interesting in any way?
Well, it might be.
The Merry People’s ride
My first contact with Santa Claus on the Green Line was right after New Year and it was on a Sunday – of course. I was going home from work and I had the luck to board the same bus as Amanda and her friends. Who’s Amanda?
Amanda is the main character in the Merry People’s Gang. They are a bunch of skiers and snowboarders who had just come from the famous Mangy Moose – tavern, turned restaurant, turned grocery store – where they had enjoyed one too many beers after a day on the slopes. Amanda falls asleep the second she sits down on the bus. In her alcohol-induced state, her head hangs from her body right in the aisle that people go through to take their seats. It does not matter that it is in their way, that they hit her, Amanda is soundly asleep.
She only reacts to the voices of the rest of the gang who cheer on her to wake up.
Amanda! Amanda, are you sleeping? Hey, look at her, her head fell! Amanda!!!!
Among the voices, two are remarkably loud: two girls in the front seats, toasting with their beer cans their first time being kicked out of a bar…
You go girls! Even Santa is entertained by you.
Drunk skiers and tired employees
This last Sunday, I had the fortune to witness a semi-fight at the bus stop, between two drunk skiers. The cause: football. One hit, the other took the blows and kept his mouth shut.
Poor guy, the one hitting. Imagine being drunk and enraged, hitting someone and that person not responding to your well-intended manifestation of violence. Uuuuu…. that would really piss you off, wouldn’t it?
At the same time, Santa parked his bus, welcomed everyone inside and asked the usual question: where to? Little did he know that he would have to smile through a fight in the back of the bus – just a few fists thrown, nothing bad really – high pitched voices talking about drunken adventures and annoyed looks of the resort employees, whose last wish would be to be stuck in the bus with noisy, drunk, smelly people.
Apathetic tourists that swear in foreign languages
Santa was again on duty yesterday and, as jolly as usual, he did his job remarkably well. He picked up a load of tourists in downtown Jackson, a few employees in various locations and drove all the way to Teton Village to take them to their destination: bed or work place.
Peaceful ride, no drunks, no skiers, no violent people. Two women chatting over an iPhone suddenly raise their voices and laugh loudly. The response? A foreign tourist turns to them and starts telling them something in his mother tongue – that no one in the bus would have been able to understand. His words caused a few laughs and giggles from his parents, as well as a private discussion in the same tone and language between the three of them.
Why would I assume he was swearing or saying bad words?, you may ask. Hmmm…. let me think – I am a foreigner in the US whose language is not understood by the locals and who sometimes gets really irritated.
Yeah, I cannot possibly relate to those tourists.
How do I know the driver is Santa?
Well, for one thing, he is old, has white hair and a white beard. He wears glasses and has a warm, omniscient look, as if he were saying: I know you’ve been a bad girl, but I’ll probably give you another chance to become better. He also has a big belly, and by looking at him you could easily imagine that belly going up and down when he’s laughing.
Second, he is always jolly. No matter what happens, he doesn’t lose his patience or smile. He asks you: Were are you going? You say Kmart, he crosses your destination off the list and smiles nicely. He also smiles in spite of the screams coming from the back of the bus, through the smell of open beer cans and through the noise of skis falling on the floor from tired hands. He wishes you Have a nice day or Good night, but by some sort of miracle, what you hear is actually: Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!