I have just come to work on a bus. As I was late (again!), I only just managed to catch it, and spent the first five minutes panting for breath.
But at one intersection, the bus driver hesitated as to where to go, and a guy sitting behind me roared out words to the effect of “turn left, you idiot”. The bus driver answered “OK, just needed to let that car go past” (which was true), which led to another round from Mr. Bozo along the lines of “hurry up, get on with it”.
The bus driver asked him to sit down and let him concentrate on the road, which caused another lady to have a crack at him. Things then went quiet until the end of the journey in a town centre. Fortunately the large male bozo got off with no further comment, but the lady wanted to let the bus driver have it. She said various choice words, and suggested that she would report him.
I was next in line to get off the bus, but after she’d stormed off, I thanked the bus driver and said I was sorry that people thought it was OK to be so rude. He thanked me for my concern, and explained that he’d been telephoned at 5.30am this morning to fill in for a sick colleague, but that he usually drove buses right at the other end of Canberra. Given that my office is only half-full at present given the numbers of people sick with winter cold and flu, this sounded plausible. I said to the driver I’d back him up if a complaint was made, and wished him a better day ahead.
On my arrival at work, I called the number he’d given me, and explained what had happened (from my point of view) to his supervisor. The supervisor explained that the guy had actually retired 3 years ago, but was on stand-by if they got stuck, and had been driving for 30-plus years. He thanked me for giving positive feedback, and would talk to the driver in question to see if he was OK.
The other bus-related thing this morning was to see a young man wearing headphones nearly get wiped out by a bus near the crossing to my office. This person walked straight out against a red pedestrian light, and didn’t look to his left at all. I screamed “”STOP!” and put my hands up, but he kept coming – and the bus missed him by less than a foot.
Perhaps at times, some of our bus drivers can be a bit grumpy or lazy. Perhaps at times they run late, or they look as if they’d rather be doing anything else than driving a bus. Perhaps we feel we should have a better public transport service. But I’ve also met drivers at other times who are cheerful, friendly, and helpful.
However, these people are what allows us to actually have a public transport system at all. Given what their job involves – wrestling 10 tonnes of metal through an increasingly congested city for hours on end, and dealing with the general public – I suggest that many of us are not keen on doing either task, or the tasks of many people who work in other service industries.
So the next time you think about having a go at someone in a service role, especially with the excuse of “it’s their job”, a bit of humility and compassion would not go astray. It’s been a while, but my work experiences in these industries when I was younger shows me that such jobs are often a lot harder than they look on the surface…and the memories of how badly I did at many of them still haunt me…
Where would we be without bus drivers/waitresses/cleaning staff and the like? We already have a skills shortage, and it’s going to get worse. Maybe it’s time we gave these people the respect and consideration we’d like to recieve ourselves in any given situation.