Be honest; how many of you find yourselves pleasantly surprised to board a bus, and discover it is being driven by a woman?
If your hand went up, you’re not alone.
Admittedly, there’s still something vaguely thrilling about seeing a woman in the Dublin Bus driving seat, so we sat down with Theresa Lydon who has been traversing the highways and byways of our capital city for more than 30 years.
“I started with Dublin Bus back in 1984,” she tells SHEmazing. “There were very few women drivers back then.”
After explaining that the organisation now employs 98 female bus drivers, 51-year-old Theresa described how she rose through the ranks, and will go down in history as one of Ireland’s first female bus drivers.
“I was a conductor for 11 years before deciding to attend the Dublin Bus driving school in 1995,” Theresa says.
“After six weeks, I was fully qualified and have enjoyed every day since. I have a real sense of pride in my role. I get a kick out of it,” she admits.
Displaying a down to earth sense of humour, Theresa, who has worked the 37, 39, 122 and 220 routes throughout her career, admits that her presence in the driving seat has caused a stir on more than one occasion.
Recalling the moment an elderly man mistook her for a male driver, Theresa remembers: “He goes ‘Thanks very much, sir!’ And then he realised, but sure I didn’t mind in the slightest!”
On her first foray in the driving seat, Theresa remembers a very welcoming public: ”Ah, they didn’t expect to see you, but everyone just goes with the flow. No one really bats an eyelid.”
“Sure, you meet every walk of life in this job. You meet everyone.”
And with Dublin Bus celebrating its 30th birthday this year, there’s no better time for Theresa to reflect on a career which facilitated the collection of dozens of stand-out memories.
As a member of her local folk choir in Ballymun, Theresa was once due to perform at a local wedding in addition to being booked to drive the Dublin Bus Wedding Bus.
Proving her many talents, not only did she drive the wedding party to the church, she sang at the mass with her choir, brought the guests to the reception, and then got them home safely at the end of the night.
From ferrying drunk members of the public to Garda stations during her time on the Nitelink to facilitating the safe arrival of a Christening cake, Theresa’s time in the driving seat has been far from boring.
And it’s no real surprise she sees herself staying with the company until her retirement, saying: ”I get a huge amount of job satisfaction out of the role. I truly love the job.”
Three cheers to that!