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This is a sad poem. A bus conductor is a member of the railway's train crew. This particular bus conductor is getting older and is sickly, having only one kidney. They are going on strike because the bus conductors feel they are being overworked. That means that there won't be any money coming in for a while because when people go on strike, they don't get paid. But he loves his job, and knows that his time is short in this business. Now, little things that he used to take for granted suddenly take on a deeper meaning. Each bus ticket now takes on a special shape and texture. He holds money "as if it were a rose" and puts money he collects for tickets in his bag "as a child would put it into a gasmeter". He doesn't tease the factory girls like he used to and, instead of getting upset at the drunk who snores, and the old man who talks to himself and gets off at the wrong stop, he chooses to ignore them. They are no longer important.
He goes back to the bedroom car on the train and watches shops and pubs he has seen many times passing by perhaps for the last time. There is a question mark at the end of that line denoting uncertainty whether it will be the last time. The same streets he has seen so often look different now, as if he were wearing new glasses and could see things more distinctly.
He thinks about a career that is nearly done. One day it will all come to an end. One day he will either clock on (time card) and die and never clock off or he will clock off one day, go home and die, and never clock back on.
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