All Hail Zoltan, Possibly The Czech Republic’s Greatest Bus Driver

This is the true story about my time in the Czech Republic with a bus driver named Zoltan. It is a little long, I know. Keep in mind that this happened a few months after Dude Where's My Car came out.

Our tour bus driver was named Zoltan. Naturally we all made the "Z" with our hands and bowed every time we got on the bus. This seemed to confuse him for some reason, although I admittedly understand why.

He was obviously shy and would always try to get people to talk to the tour guide on the bus (who had a microphone and loved discussing the Danube river at 3 am).

As we began to make our way into Romania we hit a looooooong line of semi trucks that was not moving. We are talking about a 4 to 5 hour wait to drive into the country. We had a concert to put on at a large Romanian church that night and this wait would have ensured we were late. Zoltan being the deity he is said in his native tongue, "Eff this!" (slight exaggeration) and pulled into the left lane where there was, at the time, no oncoming traffic.

I was seated at the back of the bus. This was a church trip so naturally I was feeling up on some 15 year old boobies (I was 15 as well). As he began to accelerate I remember seeing little heads popping up like meerkats. Zoltan really had his foot down for this.

On either side of us was farmland and there were decent sized drainage ditches surrounding the road. The right lane was still bumper to bumper semi trucks and your occasional odd looking Mercedes Euro-Van. It was at this time our short, awkward and timid youth leader, Roy (who was seated in the front and fortunately not touching boobies), noticed a semi on the horizon coming toward us. We are going over 50 mph.

I think most of us would have applied the brakes at this point and seriously reconsidered the 'plan.' Not Zoltan. We could see in his little bus driver mirror that his bleak and expressionless face turned to a smile, no, an evil little grin.

Roy stands up and points with a visibly shaky finger, "Uhmmm, Zoltan.... Zoltan????.... ZOLTAN WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?"

(His smile is now showing his yellowed teeth)

Our token fat kid (who was hilarious) took the liberty to jump up and yell "You can do it Zoltan! We believe in you!" This automatically got the slow clap going with his name as the sound instead of claps.

"Zoltan............Zoltan..........Zoltan.......Zoltan.....Zoltan.."

We are now literally about 60 yards away from the semi. Both us and the semi are moving very fast. Still traffic on right, and ditch on left. Roy seems to be praying now. Fat kid is jumping up and down yelling Zoltan. People are pounding the glass. Even the more 'tame' of the group were chanting with us.

The semi is closer. Not slowing down. Not moving over. The driver of the semi has now actually opened his door. This move still confuses me. I guess he would jump out?

The semi is now too close to not hit head on. There is nowhere to go. We are moving too fast. Only Roy seems to care and is definitely praying now.

Then, SLAM! all of us standing were thrown to the right of the bus. Zoltan had swerved left. There was the beginnings of a second lane (still the wrong way mind you) and we just made it over.

We came so close that our side mirrors hit... ever so slightly that only a small chip of paint was missing.

Chaos ensued. Cheers abound (besides Roy who needed a change of pants) and praises of Zoltan filled the air. Zoltan slowed us down and undid his seat belt to stand.

He turned to address us and in the best euro-accent I have ever heard said "I am the Zoltan!" and made the "Z" with his hands and took a bow.

Seriously the most amazing thing I have ever experienced.


This story was told by reader CurlzGoneWild while we discussed the singular brilliance of finding clips from a Czech science fiction TV show, which had been posted to YouTube by a man named Zoltan.

Photo Credit: Návštěvníci "Visitors" (real life Zoltan not pictured)