Monday, March 21, 2011
© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
We’ve been spending quite a bit of time on the bus recently. Apart from saving money, being green, and finding time to read the newspaper, we have the opportunity to examine a microcosm of America. During a prior transit adventure, we gained some insight into problems encountered by children in their homes, which spill over into the public schools. Later, we learned what is wrong with the American male, or at least a large number of them, from the perspective of many women.
During our most recent trip, we saw a riot in the making, which may reflect some of the tension and stress the American public is feeling during these difficult economic times.
On certain days of the week, and at certain times of the month, there are more people using the bus system than is normally the case. With more passengers and more frequent stops come incremental delays which build up over the course of a route.
When we boarded the bus, and saw it packed with 40 plus passengers, we knew there was going to be trouble. At our stop, the bus normally has roughly 16 minutes to make it to the Central Depot, and connect with other outbound buses. But on this day, it only had 9 minutes to spare, for a trip which could take 8 minutes under ideal conditions.
Actually, the bus driver did a pretty good job of making the lights while traveling within the speed limit. Unfortunately, he arrived at the entrance to the Depot 1 minute before the other buses were scheduled to depart. Those of you unfamiliar with the bus system might think that this was good enough, and that everyone would be happy since the connections could be made.
But regular riders know, or at least they should, that if an arriving bus is not fully into the Depot 2 minutes before the scheduled departure time, it must wait at a safety line at the entrance to the Depot, until given further instructions.
The reason for the rule is fairly obvious. The operators of the system do not want passengers jumping off incoming buses, running in between other buses about to depart, and banging on windows to get the attention of departing drivers.
And thus, they made our bus wait. Fifty yards back, but with the other buses, not yet departed, within our view. To make it worse, the other buses did not take off at the scheduled time.
Things began to get testy. First a few passengers yelled, “What are we waiting for?” Then a few more bellowed, “The other buses haven’t even left!” “I’m going to miss my connection.” With each passing 10 seconds, the tension thickened. The bus began to rock as the passengers began to stand up and demand that they be let out at the safety line and be provided the opportunity to run across the paths of the departing buses in anticipation of a lucrative lawsuit.
“This is why the Transit Authority is crap!”
Some even suggested that they had been let out at the safety line on previous occasions, in obvious violation of Authority policy.
Amazingly, the African born immigrant driver sat politely in his seat, as only a citizen of a Commonwealth nation could, and said nothing at first, and later that he was only complying with Transit Authority policy. Of course, no one came to his defense.
Once all of the other buses in front of us departed, and the Depot was cleared, permission was given to our driver to proceed forward, as the African-Americans taunted him and suggested that he return to the country of his origin, in not quite so polite terms. Once the bus came to a stop amongst the empty stalls, both the front and rear doors of the bus opened. The insults reached a level where we were sure that someone was going to punch the driver as the crowd exited, and when it would have been difficult to determine the assailant.
Our driver managed to avoid an altercation this time. Something tells us that might not be the case in the very near future.
As we left by the rear door, we heard someone say,” An ass-whupping wuz ‘bout da take place.”
We guess it was a good thing that the bus was full of otherwise law-abiding citizens. We can’t imagine what an irresponsible group of citizens might have done.
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