When is a Bus Stop not a Bus Stop?

When is a bus stop not a bus stop?

Yep it’s a riddle or perhaps a stupid joke.

Certainly not as funny as “When is a door not a door?”, but it’s worth asking all the same.

A few days ago I asked a few of my English students to imagine a situation and say what they’d do.

This was the situation:

Local buses cannot travel along the normal route and reach the main bus stop in the piazza because the road is blocked as a result of roadworks. Anybody who has to get a bus from this bus stop should walk to the next one on the route.

Then I asked them if they were in charge of the bus company or responsible for the smooth running of the bus service what would they do.

These students  (different classes) ranging in age from young teenagers to mature adults and of different English abilities all came up wit a similar plan:

  1. Put a clear sign/notice on the affected bus stop
  2. Indicate the problem
  3. Indicate the reason for the problem
  4. Clearly explain the workaround

Although the vocabulary varied, they all created a notice that was clearly understandable and was helpful to the customers of the bus company. One bright spark even suggested putting the information on the company’s website or pushing a notice to all users of the company’s smart phone app(if one existed).

I thought they did really well.

This is not what my local bus company decided to do. My local bus company decided to take a completely different approach to that of all of my students. My local bus company decided to use telepathy to communicate that no buses were going to come to the main bus stop of the town no matter how long you waited.

Obviously the bus company is more experienced in these matters than my students so when I explained the “correct” approach to my students they laughed, shrugged their shoulders and said “Ah, but you are in Italy!”

Today I don’t need to get a bus anywhere. But I plan to have a coffee in the piazza and see if the bus company’s telepathic signals finally break through my non-Italian thick skull so that I can discover the current status of public transport.

When is a bus stop not a bus stop?

Who knows!

I’m going to leave you with this classic from Sesame Street…



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