The jump seat is that little seat next to the driver that you hardly notice as you enter the coach. It folds up like a cinema seat and is often the spot where the trip leader spends his or her days using the wide dashboard as an office desk and their driver as a business partner, organising the days ahead.
When I first did training I was placed down the very back of the coach, in the corner of the back seat. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it until I started creeping down the coach on driving tours. Each row forward offered more views and felt more airy.
On my first trip I remember sitting in the jump seat for the first time as my driver and I drove from Wemeldinge to Calais to greet my first passengers. The windscreen seemed so large to me then that it might as well not have had any boarders and was so clean that nothing seemed to stand between me and the flat green fields and rows of canals. I remember the rush, the feeling that it was all beginning and best of all for any avid traveller – the feeling that I was moving and going somewhere.
The motions now of swinging down from a spot in the front row, using one hand to hold on to the rail and the other to reach out and push down on the resisting springs of the little seat right in front of the windscreen are second nature. The motion of sitting down is now so connected to the act of fastening the seatbelt, of bracing against possible corners or breaks that ‘coach legs’ could be compared to ‘sea legs’.
My feet don’t touch the ground and so I have 3 options. 1. hang my feet down, kicking and swinging them like a pendulum over the front stairs (I feel like a little kid doing this). 2. cross my legs as if I was a frog on a lily pad or 3. Prop them up on the dash like I am an ad man in Mad Men and that dash is my desk. This is my favourite option. The low dash plus the huge windscreen make it feel as though you were propped on a (hard grey) cloud skimming over the road. The view is incredible as said by every passenger that ever came up the front for the first time whether you are looking at the flat fields of the Netherlands or the rugged and untamed mountains in Albania.
Wherever we are, this seat always gives the feeling of incredible freedom and excitement. I’m not sure why it is that the ‘cool kids’ supposedly sit in the back seat when it is pretty obvious that the best spot in the ‘house’ is all the way up the very front.