Have I mentioned that I hate the bus? I hate the bus. Haaaaaaaaaaate. Buses are slow, they get stuck in traffic, and they don't adhere to any schedule.
But today was without question, the worst experience I’ve ever had on a bus in the whole of my 28 years.
This morning, I got off at the metro station, and was very excited to see the local bus pulling up to the bus stop.
Everyone piled on the bus, and the bus was almost full when the bus driver slammed the door in the face of this young African-American guy who was about to get on the bus.
Immediately, the red flags went up. "Uh oh," I thought. "I think I'm on a large vehicle being operated by a scary bus driver."
I kind of wanted off the bus, but at this point the bus was moving, and I needed to get to work.
“Oh well,” I thought. “How bad could this guy be, really?”
Pretty bad as it turns out.
One of the women sitting at the very front of the bus got really upset that the driver had shut the door on this guy and not allowed him to get on the bus. So … they started arguing.
The bus driver insisted he had a schedule to keep and that he had waited two minutes at the stop.
The woman insisted that it wouldn’t have delayed us really to let that one guy on the bus.
They went back and forth a bit, and then things got really ugly.
The driver started ranting, “I have a schedule! I have my business to keep! Maybe, in your country the buses can keep waiting forever, but I have to keep to the schedule!”
Of course that made the woman FURIOUS. “My country? This is my country!” she yelled at him.
And then he pulled the “No you di’int just say that,” line.
“Why don’t you just go back to your own country?” he spat at her.
Let me say here, I could tell by their accents that both the bus driver and the woman were clearly immigrants. So for them to be engaging in this kind of vitriol, for the bus driver to be telling this woman to “go back to her country” when he himself CLEARLY wasn’t born here was … profoundly depressing. I can handle xenophobic native-born. I’m not saying I like it, but I can handle it. But there is something worse about a xenophobic immigrant. Something more corrosive.
Then the driver pulled up to the first bus stop after the metro station, and stopped. He demanded she get off the bus.
So he refused to move.
We stayed at the bus stop for two minutes. Then three. Then five.
I started wondering what happened to his precious schedule now?
People started pleading with the bus driver. Other people started asking the woman to get off the bus.
Neither would budge.
Finally, pretty much everyone else EXCEPT for the bus driver and the woman exited the bus.
I called a co-worker to see if she could pick me up.
And then, after ten minutes of being stranded, the bus driver for a rapid bus courteously stopped and picked us up even though we weren’t at a rapid bus stop.
Thankfully I was only fifteen minutes late to work.
The first thing I did when I arrived at work was to call Metro to report the bus driver. Metro, of course, took a very different view of the situation than I did. The customer service rep told me that bus drivers are trained to stop at a station if they get into a fight which would impact their driving.
I get it. But frankly? I don’t think the driver stopped the bus because he was too angry to drive. I think the whole thing was a power-play.
And while I admit that the woman was out of line haranguing the bus driver while he drove, he’s the one who escalated it. Besides, crazy people heckle bus drivers every day. If he can’t handle it, should he really be driving the bus at all?
And finally, I believe that if the young black man trying to get on the bus had been white, the bus driver wouldn’t have slammed the door on his face. Am I reading too much into it?
I’d kind of like to believe that the angry bus driver was just angry and would have slammed the door in the face of any person, white, black, Latino, or Asian. But I really don’t believe that.
And now I kind of want to drive to work tomorrow. I wish that the Metro customer service rep had seemed more upset by my report.
I really hate the bus.
5 weeks ago