So this day started off like any other Actuate sales kick off day…. tired and possibly still drunk from the night before. Gathered around in the hotel lobby, waiting for the bus to take us to Lake Tahoe, out comes Pete, Heinekens in tow, it must be afternoon somewhere. Upon entering the bus, the signs begin to emerge immediately. For some reason we are unable to make the 4600 combined watts of amplifier power, turn on more than 2 speakers, nor could we get the A/C system working. Eventually we get these seemingly small issues resolved, and get on our way with packed coolers and a merry tone. Bottles were popping, glasses filling, even jello decided to make an appearance.
It becomes quite clear within minutes, that charter buses can induce motion sickness. Mixed in with stop and go traffic, a bus driver whom is clearly clueless (more on this later), and you have a recipe to stop in Vallejo for some Dramamine and more booze of course. Back on our way we go, more stop and go traffic, and more of a bus driver whom refuses to slow down well in advance and would rather come to abrupt stops as the passengers are getting their drink on. Nothing like spilling mimosas and red wine on white clothing.
Given that the night before I was tormented by my roommate’s constant desire to snore, I partied and received little sleep. Eventually my eyes became heavy, and I dozed off, waking frequently to the sudden jerks and stops from our incredibly talented bus driver. One of these such jerks, was the driver’s desire to pull off at an exit, only to drive through it, because the water temp of the engine was rising. I understand your concerns, but if you are going to signal like you need to stop, fucking do it, and don’t keep going instead… fucktard.
After a while, I shake the heavy eyes, pop up again, and head straight for jello. Booze is still flowing, my boss is trying to get me to do shots of sipping tequila (I proudly refuse), and all seems well… kinda. Besides the smell of something burning near the back of the bus, the toilet was also nearing capacity. When the booze is flowing, the pisser is filling. We stop at a rest stop, about 75% of the way through the trip. Then it all started to come together, or undone, depending on how you look at it. The back of the bus was covered in oil.
This is when the competency level of our bus driver sets new lows. First we watch him struggle for a few minutes to open the back hatch (bus engines are in the rear), then he realizes, he should open the side hatch, and hit the lever to unlock the back hatch. Ok. So now what, its open, and its obvious, there’s oil… everywhere. The look of “duh” on the driver’s face was priceless. Now imagine a bunch of drunk men, looking at a diesel bus engine, covered in oil at a truck stop. After a few minutes of this, we realize that our problem is the result of someone forgetting to put the oil fill cap back on, or put it on incorrectly. Last I checked, since emissions became popular, it was a bad thing to have a large 2″ hole coming from any a tube in the engine bay. After confirming with the stickers indicating oil fill location, out comes the dipstick, and sure enough we are low on oil. This would also explain the rise in engine temps.
Christina, tall, blond, and bountiful, walks over to a truck driver and persuades him to give up some lubrication. We top off the engine oil in our bus. One last issue, we don’t have an oil filler cap. Out comes a rag, and some duct tape. The fix is perfect, done MacGyver style… created by a bunch of drunk men. Just when you think we are all in the clear, the idiot bus driver forgets how to start his own bus. I’m not kidding. We sat there for about five minutes while he read the owner’s manual, trying to figure out how to start the bus… the same one that he picked us up in, and apparently drives for a living. Again, I’m not kidding.
Finally the engine starts and on our way we go. Eventually we crest the Sierra mountains, and yes even more can happen. You see this bus, well it seemed pretty new. Sure the radio didn’t work, and the oil cap wasn’t on, but the jack brake system was also not working. Jack brakes are used to help slow down large diesel vehicles, without using the normal brakes. Once we crested the mountains, all we had to slow the bus down, were the standard brakes, and by the time we got to Lake Tahoe, the left rear brakes were s..s..s..smoking. So at this point, we can continue the 10 minute ride around the lake to our hotel, and risk falling into the lake due to faulty brakes, or wait a few minutes to let the brakes cool.
After another nearly blown stop light (maybe our driver was drunk?) and a few more jerky turns, we finally arrive at our hotel, ate dinner, drank some booze, and laughed and lived to tell the story about the Actuate Lake Tahoe Bus Party from Hell.
PS: The growing conspiracy theory is that Pete planned this entire set of mishaps, to bring the attendees closer together in real life problem solving situations…. hmmm