Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tribulations of Trimet Bus Drivers

This post was reprinted From the Driver's Side Blog

It's been a particularly rough week. Without going into details that might later reveal my identity, let's just say I was the victim of a brutal verbal assault. It happens from time to time, but rarely on my route.

As a bus operator, I'm used to it. People seem to think I'm there to serve them, as if I'm their personal freakin' chauffeur. What they don't understand, or even believe, is that riding a bus is a privilege, not a right. Just because you plunk down a few bucks plus change doesn't give you the right to boss me around. Quite the opposite is true, especially if they decide to make their own rules.

When I'm behind the wheel, it's my bus. Not the transit agency's, not the taxpayers, not those riding in it. I am the captain of the ship. It is my duty to safely transport passengers on a specific route to their destination. Abiding by our Standard Operating Procedures, I am paid to operate a vehicle that is difficult, at best, to operate. In addition to following the law, something most motorists refuse to do, it takes a professional to maneuver 20 tons of glass and steel along narrow streets originally designed for horse-drawn carriages.

A person of average intelligence might deduce it isn't in their best interest to annoy, harass, insult or even assault a bus operator. Most people do not. But there's about one percent of the riding public which seems to delight in it. Professional assholes, you might say. They might be mentally ill, but whatever their excuse, they still don't have the right to put the entire bus in danger. Unless our attention is strictly focused on safely operating our bus, we become a "distracted driver". This is the most dangerous of all the species of humanis operatus, but the most common of the average auto/truck/delivery drivers. The safest of the lot are 100% in tune with their vehicle's surroundings, and constantly predict dangerous behavior in and around it. This requires complete concentration with very little distraction.

Sometimes, I will chastise a passenger if they're chatting a bit too loudly on their phone, or if I can hear the music in their earphones. It's distracting, and takes me out of my safety zone. General conversation on the bus is white noise, just like the diesel engine. When a passenger erupts into a vile, profane and ignorant tirade when a bus operator asks them to abide by agency rules, they have put the entire bus at risk, and everyone within it.

So when Jim Jerkoff, who is highly impressed with himself or on dumbass pills, decides he doesn't have to obey me, things can turn sour. Fast. By cursing, shouting and screaming at me, he hasn't just dented my safety zone, he has demolished it. Rather than elaborate on our heated exchange, here's what I dearly would love to say to one of these imbeciles, but cannot if I want to remain employed.

JJ: "Shut the fuck up, don't tell me what to do. I pay your salary so shut up. Just drive Asshole." (Comma omitted on purpose.)

Me (over bus intercom): "Ladies and gentlemen, at our next stop I must ask you all to disembark from this bus. I've been instructed to 'just drive Asshole'. Since there's only one person on this bus fitting that description, I'm sorry but all you polite and decent people must leave so I can carry out his command. Thank you for riding, be sure to thank Asshole for this inconvenience."

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