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Our Breaking Bad bus operator

Bill Laird, Coast Mountain Bus' very own Walter White...of sorts

Bill Laird, Coast Mountain Bus’ very own Walter White…of sorts

If you take the 135 regularly or stumbled upon the story on Internet, you’d know that one of our CMBC bus operators looks a lot like the famous TV drama character Walter White of Breaking Bad.

He looks so much like him that he’s spawned memes and numerous nicknames. If you haven’t come across the one who stops, then you’re in luck! The Buzzer interviewed him. Enjoy!

How long have you been a bus operator?

I got started 25 years ago, September 1990.

Do you watch Breaking Bad?

I watch it lots, and I love it. I’ve seen all the seasons a couple of times. It’s a wonderful show. It’s well written, the cast is great as well as the acting – I think they nailed it.

Any favourite parts that stand out?

There are lots of them, but I’ll narrow it down for you. The part where Hank and Walter finally confront each other about who Walter really is, OK, and Hank realizes all this time under my nose it’s been my brother in law, and he’s been a meth dealer.

The other time is when Walter’s talking to Skylar and he says he’s not really the man she thinks he is. And he gets to say that classic line (goes into character) I am the one who knocks.

What do you think of Walter?

Walter starts out as a normal family guy, but out of a misguided sense of necessity, changes into something totally different and not very nice.

Anything in common with the character?

The only thing we have in common is we’re both family guys, and we do care for our families. The difference is that I’m happy with my life and where I’m going, and I don’t feel any need to be doing anything different.

Your passengers say you’re affable and really seem to enjoy your job.

That’s true. I’m very happy. The people are wonderful and I appreciate all the kind things that have been said.

When were you first eyed as Walter?

Last September, a co-worker named Bob looked at me and said, “Oh my god – Heisenberg!” And then of course every time we saw each other after we’d be joking about it, and making references to the show.

When did you grow the goatee?

That would be September, around the same time. I saw a picture of Walter online and I thought, I really like that, I could do that. With a little bit of help from Just For Men (laughs) and, there we go!

People point it out a lot?

Yeah, a fair amount.

What do you say?

I laugh and say thanks I really appreciate that. Because it’s a whole lot of fun.

Does it start conversations?

Oh definitely. People will say, ‘hey, do you have any little bags of blue rock candy?’ Or ‘this is what happened! – you didn’t really die in the show! You snuck into Canada, (laughs) and you became a bus driver.’ The funniest thing I had happen is I had a gentleman get on the bus at SFU and he does this double take and walks to the back. Later, he walks up to me and says ‘I thought this was a prank thing with the guy from Breaking Bad pretending to be a bus driver so they could get people’s responses’ – like a Candid Camera-type thing. We had a good laugh over that.

What’s strangest thing you’ve been asked as a bus operator?

After all the things I’ve heard over 25 years, nothing is strange.

Best part of driving 135 bus?

The people. The students up at SFU, the business people I pick up, and the people I pick up on their daily shopping trips. I have a lot of regular customers. It’s great.

If not a bus operator, what would you do?

There was a time I looked at being a motorcycle mechanic. I looked at being a commercial pilot, too, because I have my pilot’s license, but (points to his fairly thick eyeglasses) back then in the ‘80s there wasn’t any wiggle room.

Any hobbies?

I work on motorcycles. I fabricate parts. I do airbrush work on motorcycle helmets. I build models, and one of my passions is online gaming. My son Trevor got me into that. I’ve got my Xbox 360 and I absolutely love that.

Other thoughts on Breaking Bad?

They balance it out so well in this show. It’s a serious drama – and I guess a statement on choices we make – but they’ve also balanced in the humour perfectly. You never lose the dark side that they’re really trying to get across.

Are you enjoying this little bit of attention you’ve been getting?

This is fantastic. I’m having fun with it, and I think there’s some really, really good people who are having fun with it too.

Have you met Walter, er, I mean Bill on the bus yet? We’d love to hear about your encounter with our famous operator!

Interview and photo: Chris Bryan


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