Rule Bender.

martinI was a few minutes late but even though I was on the opposite side of the street I got lucky: the bus had passed the designated stop but was at a red light. I ran across the street and tapped on the door. Inside I could see the driver shaking her head and saying something. I couldn’t tell what she was saying, though, because the door was closed. The light changed and she drove on. The bus had pulled away from the curb–what there was of it, since construction had blocked off the sidewalk, forcing me to stand in the street—so letting me on would have broken the rules.

As a regular bus rider I recognize certain drivers. Some of them even recognize me which always surprises me because even on a regular route a driver must see dozens, even hundreds of different people every day, but that’s another story. Maybe she recognized that I didn’t regularly try to break the rules. This was an exception, not the rule. And technically the rule is that you can flag down a bus at any intersection. She had pulled away from the curb but letting me on would have really bent, not broken the rules.

I know the rules are there to keep people safe but there has to be room for extenuating circumstances and even compassion, no matter how small. And, as I said, I recognized this driver. She regularly lets people stand in front of the yellow line at the front and talk to her while she’s driving. On long stretches where there are no stops or intersections she still creeps along in the right lane so she’s usually behind schedule. And if there’s construction near a stop–if it’s fifty or a hundred feet ahead of a stop–she won’t come to the stop but will only let people board fifty or a hundred feet behind the stop. She’s emphatically stated that she won’t stop the bus anywhere near construction. That last one isn’t written anywhere but is her own self-imposed rule.

At least that used to be the case. I haven’t seen her in months. Maybe somebody reported her for breaking the rules.

12 Comments

  1. Gilly Naddison

    Sounds like US bus drivers go to the same training school as our UK drivers! And what is it with people who want to stand at the front of a bus and distract the person who is responsible for the lives of all the passengers? A totally random fact here – I once knew a bus driver in Toronto who had a nervous breakdown from having a billion people telling him to ‘have a nice dayeeee!’ all day long.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d like to know what it is with drivers who are perfectly fine with people standing at the front of the bus and distracting them while they’re driving. I can sort of understand passengers either ignoring or not knowing the rules but the bus drivers themselves should know better.

      Reply
  2. Sandra

    I applaud people who take the bus. It’s great for the environment. But it is so intimidating. I know right, weird fact to attribute to riding a bus. But of my 3 teens, only one will willingly (the most self sufficient one, might I mention) ride the bus. The 2 others have ended up at the opposite end of town having totally confused the bus route. And I agree, that bus driver could have easily popped that door open for you. It’s sort of a sad depiction: someone tapping on the window while another inside shakes her head almost chastising ‘no’.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s great for the environment. I just wish where I lived had more widespread bus service. It’s approximately a mile and a half from where I live to the nearest bus stop which isn’t insurmountable but there are areas where the nearest bus stop is miles away.
      And I can understand getting confused about the route. The buses now have the routes clearly marked but just a few years ago they didn’t and to make it especially confusing in some areas multiple routes overlap. On top of that drivers would give misleading information. I was once riding on what I thought was one route, having asked the driver when I got on, and about five minutes later he said, “Oh, wait, you want the other one…”

      Reply
  3. kdcol

    Bet you she spent the whole day feeling guilty about it. So there’s that. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Somehow I doubt it. In spite of conversing with some riders she never seemed like she was all that concerned about anybody who got on the bus. Most drivers will say “Hello” or “Hi” when you get on. She just glared at me.

      Reply
  4. Kristine @MumRevised

    Gilly, I hope that bus driver is not taking my offspring to school as we speak 🙂
    I applaud rule followers as one myself (The first step is admitting you have a problem). But if it makes me late, that bitch be warned. You handled it better than I! I might have been tempted to stand in front of the bus and scream obscenities like a crazy lady. That ALWAYS works (winky face).

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Rules are good and useful and all that but they don’t have to be absolute. Well, some rules should be absolute. Don’t jump onto a big sharp spike unless you want to be impaled, for instance, but her refusal to let me board was following the letter rather than the spirit of the law.
      I’ll try the screaming obscenities trick. Or maybe I’ll freak her out by reciting a Shakespeare monologue or something weird.

      Reply
  5. Gina W.

    Wow, be sure to give us an update if you see this lady again. I would be tempted to make some kind of snarky comment. If I was in a foul mood, it would probably be a full-on bitchy comment (à la Kristine above). I think I’ve mentioned this before– I seriously hope you have the Uber app loaded on your phone for moments like this.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      She may never be back but I’m trying to think of something really harsh to say to her like “Thanks for pulling over for a change” or something like that, but that might go completely over her head. Maybe I should just stick with the old standby “Did you get your license out of a Cracker Jack box?”

      Reply
  6. Ann Koplow

    I had a very different experience with a bus driver today. There is a shuttle bus that runs between the garage where I park my car and the hospital where I work. I skip the shuttle bus and walk the fifteen minute walk, whenever possible. Today, after I parked my car, I was standing outside the parking garage and checking blog comments on my phone. I looked up and the shuttle bus had stopped in the middle of the road — the driver was waiting for me to look up and cross the street and board it. I vigorously shook my head “NO,” feeling guilty that the driver and the passengers were waiting for me. I think we were all breaking some rules there.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Sometimes unintentional rule breaking happens. In spots where multiple bus routes overlap I have to be careful to stand back when a bus I don’t want to catch comes by. The last thing I want to do is delay people on their way to another place.

      Reply

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