Hostility in Transit, Example 1:
On a recent evening commute, I rode on the bus of a driver who had clearly had enough. One too many times, someone had flashed him an expired transfer, or put the wrong amount of change in the fare box, or just walked on by without paying at all. Twice in a five-minute time span, the (not small) driver stood, got in a non-paying passenger’s face, and screamed these exact words:
“DUDE!” [pause] “DUDE! GET ON THE NEXT BUS!”
I have to give him credit for one thing: The folks he screamed at paid their fares. And certainly, as a former high school teacher who understands the importance of enforcing rules fairly and does not enjoy being disrespected, I am quite familiar with his frustration.
When your frustration is so high that you routinely engage in outbursts that humiliate transgressors, frighten all of your passengers, and put you at risk of an instant heart attack, and when your method of enforcing rules involves passing the problem on to the unsuspecting driver behind you, it’s probably time to seek another profession.
Hostility in Transit, Example 2:
To get between my office and the closest 545 stop, I have to walk a decent distance. By the correct path (which involves using actual sidewalks), it’s probably close to three-quarters of a mile. But I don’t take the correct path. Like all the other 545 riders who work in my building, I take a shortcut through an empty lot. This works great — except in winter, when it gets dark at 4:30, and the street-lightless evening walk requires the same headlamp I bring on my annual camping excursion to Tahoma. And except when it’s been raining a lot, and the part that’s not paved turns to a sea of mud capable of destroying even the most carefully maintained pair of bus chick shoes. Still, I carry the flashlights and endure the ruined shoes and stained pantlegs, all in the name of saving those few minutes that the shortcut provides.
Or at least I did.
Last Thursday, I headed home from work earlier than usual and found myself dodging the mud puddles in the empty lot at an unfamiliar time. A time, apparently, when the actual inhabitants of the lot — geese! — enjoy their evening constitutional.
Have I mentioned that I’m terrified of geese? Back when I was a baby bus chick, the geese at my grandpa’s farm chased and bit me any time I dared to walk past the pond. The fear is greater now than it was then. Perhaps it’s because my imagination has distorted the memory. I’m guessing it’s because a fellow bus rider recently told me he was knocked off his feet by an angry, dive-bombing goose during a morning crossing of the shortcut lot in question.
From now on, I’ll be taking the long way.
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