Rights And Responsibilities.

Technically I’ve never been kicked off the bus. Like any rider I’m responsible for sticking to various rules: I’m not allowed to smoke on the bus (even if I smoked),

or play loud music (I prefer using earbuds to listen to podcasts),

or eat or drink,

although there seems to be quite a bit of flexibility on this last one, judging by the number of empty bottles, snack wrappers, packages, and other detritus I find on the bus. Once I sat down in the back and found a little pile of chicken bones resting on the windowsill, but that’s another story.

I say I’ve technically never been kicked off the bus because I was once ordered off the bus by a driver, but so were all the other riders. And this was not one of the usual situations. There was no emergency or anything wrong with the bus. Sometimes I have had to leave a bus because it broke down and we were all allowed to get on the next bus to come along and continue on our journey.

No, on this particular occasion the reason we were all thrown off the bus is because the driver would go about two blocks then pull over in the middle of the block and get out his cell phone. Bus drivers are supposed to keep their cell phones in a metal box at the front of the bus that blocks cell signals, but he was ignoring that rule. He also glanced at his cell phone while driving, ignoring the road ahead.

Someone finally complained about him pulling over. Instead of doing what he was supposed to he made us all get off the bus, which we did. The next bus wasn’t far behind, and in fact once we’d all flagged it down and boarded it went past him. I don’t know how long he stayed there playing with his cell phone.

In retrospect I wish we’d all gotten out our cell phones–which riders are allowed to use–and reported him. Just because he had a uniform and the keys to the bus, just because he was in a position of authority, doesn’t mean we had to do whatever he said. We had a right to expect a driver who would carry us safely, who would obey the rules. And since he wouldn’t do that we should have done what we could to hold him responsible.

 

7 Comments

  1. Gilly

    Sounds like that driver was having a nervous breakdown! What on earth was he thinking? And it makes a refreshing change to see the word ‘responsibilities’ beside ‘rights’ because that doesn’t happen very often where I’m from. Everyone shouts about their rights with very little, if any, attention paid to their responsibilities

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes, I specifically put those together because, well, to take a classic example, everyone has the right to speak but it’s wrong to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. All rights must be exercised responsibly or we risk losing them.

      Reply
  2. BarbaraM

    I’m a sucker for the underdog, and while I agree with your take on this 99%, in the back of my mind I wonder if his wife was in labor, or some immediate family member was in surgery or dying. Which doesn’t excuse his behavior, but you know – benefit of the doubt.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s a good point and I appreciate you making me think about that way. I would give him the benefit of the doubt but I’d ridden with that same driver before on a different route and he was checking his phone then too. If it were a family emergency I’d be completely understanding, and it’s possible he has someone who needs help. Or he’s just playing a game.

      Reply
      1. BarbaraM

        If that’s the case, then I don’t understand why they haven’t fired his butt. Seniority only is effective when you’re not breaking the law or just being a plain a-hole.

        Reply
  3. Spoken Like A True Nut

    Yeesh. I’ve had a bus driver make an unscheduled stop for a cup of coffee before, but that was pretty much the opposite of your situation because none of us was about to complain about something that would potentially keep the man handling a large motor vehicle full of people lacking safety restraints more alert.

    Meanwhile, I don’t have enough synonyms for “dangerous idiot” to describe someone who would deliberately handle a large motor vehicle full of people lacking safety restraints while distracted.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I used to have a regular driver who’d stop on every trip to run into McDonald’s, but I could tolerate that even I meant being a few minutes late. The dangerous idiot, on the other hand, could have made us all late in a very different sense.

      Reply

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