Two schoolboys, about 14, a few seats behind me. The bus shudders alarmingly as it slows down, approaching the next stop.
Boy 1: Hurry up and stop!
Boy 2 (darkly): There’s more to it than that.
Boy 1: What?
Boy 2 (slowly, as though to impress on his listeners the gravity of his pronouncement): Parking…is the most difficult part of driving.
Boy 1: Why?
Boy 2 (ignoring this): And bus drivers have to do it… [pause while he works it out in his head] …twenty times a DAY.
(Another pause, in which Boy 1 was presumably supposed to exclaim his astonishment at this fact, and admiration of his friend’s wisdom. When this was not forthcoming, Boy 2 continued.)
Boy 2: Driving’s so complicated though. You have to put your foot down-
Boy 1 (eager to display his knowledge): On the gas!
Boy 2 (patient, long-suffering): No, on the clutch pedal. And then you have to use the gear lever-
Boy 1: And the gas!
Boy 2: No – then it’s- [Having got confused, he switches to a different tack.] Manuals are so complicated though. You have to do it all again when you change to a different gear, and then as soon as you’ve done that you have to go up to a different gear, and then again, all the way up to sixth! No… [a world-weary sigh] I much prefer automatics.
Boy 1 (rather lost): Yeah…
Boy 2: I’m tall enough now to drive by myself. I used to sit on my dad’s lap and he did the pedals and I did the steering, but now I’m tall enough to reach the pedals myself.
Boy 1 (genuinely impressed): You did that?!
Boy 2 (nonchalant now): Yeah. I prefer automatics though.