There’s a lot of good things about being a Korean bus driver that make me want to be one.

When the roads aren’t so clogged that driving is a matter of stopping and starting in three second intervals, the Korean bus driver’s work is a simple cycle that allows for a mindful immersion in the activities. Set off from the bus stop; drive to the next intersection;wait; continue driving; stop at the bus stop; open both sets of doors; listen to the ticket machine and if it beeps twice check that the person who just scanned their transit payment card is a teenager, otherwise just make sure that the number of single beeps matches the number of passengers who get on; flick one switch to close front doors; raise eyes to use the mirror to see passengers getting off, and when they are all off flick the switch for the back doors and continue driving.

Mindfulness should be possible with any task, but there are factors about a job that make it easier. The smooth repetition of the above cycle is certainly more conducive to mindfulness than that of a British bus driver. In Korea a computer calculates and deducts almost everyone’s fares, but in the UK outside of London, you’ve got to tell the bus driver where you want to go, she’s to think about what you said and figure out which fare category that bus stop falls into, and then you pay in cash and the driver counts out the change. Then there’s opening and closing the doors. Korean bus drivers customise their cabs. They attach plastic trays to hold bits and pieces, fasten a paper coffee cup to the dashboard to hold pens etc. Almost every bus has long pens attached to the door switches, so that drivers can sit back in their normal driving position and flick these switches with one hand. There’s no such customisation permitted on a British bus, so I believe that most bus drivers have to change their position in their seat in order to handle the doors and take money and give out change. Finally, Korean buses are kings of the road. Unofficially they take priority over cars. That makes for smoother driving because Korean bus drivers can just assume that others will make way for them.

Some other things. I’ve already mentioned that Korean bus drivers customise their cab. They can also play their own music or radio as loud as they like, which is forbidden in the UK. As well as customising it, they clean their own bus—every Korean bus has a mop tied to a railing and shoved between a couple of the seats somewhere—and so there’s a sense of ownership over the work that they do. You don’t need legal ownership of your workspace to do this. And Korean bus services are no-frills affairs. Buses are usually quite old and not at all shiny, but as I’ve said before they form part of an extremely effective public transport system. As a Korean bus driver I think I’d be very proud of the work I was doing. I don’t know about working conditions such as hours and union representation, but salaries are certainly reasonable, with the base, starting salary being about 20% higher than my salary as an English teacher (that’s factoring in my free accommodation).