There is an unspoken rule in the bus drivers’ profession, and the rule is this: you must never, under any circumstances, let a monkey drive the bus. What if the monkey is cute and polite? What if he insists? What if he keeps his hands at 10 and 2, checks his blind spots, and seems like he actually has pretty good spatial awareness? No—it doesn’t matter. Do not let the monkey drive.
A bus driver in India broke this rule last week. A monkey came aboard with another passenger, refused to sit anywhere other than up the front, then took the wheel for almost ten minutes and piloted a bus full of 30 passengers around Davangere, 270 kilometres from the regional capital of Bangalore. The human driver took care of acceleration and gear changes.
Obviously, footage of the monkey driving the bus quickly went viral. And then the man who was actually supposed to be driving was suspended from his job.
“Driver M Prakash has been taken off duty for allowing the monkey to sit on the steering wheel and handle it,” said T.S Latha, a spokesperson for the government’s road transport corporation, as reported by Channel NewsAsia. “Passengers’ safety is paramount and the driver cannot risk it by allowing a monkey on the steering.”
The passengers, for their part, seemed to take little issue with the fact that they were being driven around by a monkey. Online, responses to the footage have cycled between disgust—”Utter disregard for public safety—adoration—”OMG so cute! In the USA they would taze it to death or something”—and foreboding—”Be careful with that because at some point, monkeys can take your job just for peanuts and bananas.”
It bears repeating: do not let the monkey drive the bus.