Man, the stories that I could tell about the company I drive for. Formerly the Department of Street Railways (DSR), now the Detroit Department of Transportation (D-DOT). As I’ve said many times before on previous entries, Detroit and its transportation counterparts i.e. the auto industry, and public transportation have a rich and vivid history. A lot of things that-dare I say it-“made America “great”” came from Detroit.
More on that later (I anticipate a future debate on the subject)!
Now let’s dive into the nitty gritty of what’s to be discussed now!
If anyone remembers the 50s sitcom “The Honeymooners”, most observers would connect us operators to Ralph Kramden who was a wisecracking, no-nonsense, take no prisoners individual who occasionally took some flak for things both within and out of his control.
I sympathize and empathize on every level imaginable.
It is both safe and realistic to say that as the decades came and went bus drivers and their passengers have always had a mixed chemistry/love hate relationship with one another.
Now having rode the bus in my younger days, I recall that if you rubbed an operator the wrong way, you were dealt with in a manner where the cops would turn the other way and pick up the trash later.
You won’t be seeing that today-especially with cameras on the coach. Nowadays if a passenger ticks off an operator, it’s like Jesus admonished his followers to “turn the other cheek”.
Easy to say, hard to do, but we live to fight another day!
Bluntly, but tactfully speaking, unlike the 80s and 90s, you can’t always fire back at knuckleheads all the time. Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em as one wise man said. But having to deal with the public, and babysit them simultaneously, it’s a strain. Think about it, you’re driving a 40-foot long, 10.5 feet tall, and 8-feet wide beast of a machine that functions on air and diesel fuel, handling money, issuing transfers, having to deal with A.D.A. passengers, which slows down our timetable, that I can deal with, but God forbid I have a bus full of irate passengers who are already pressed for time because yours truly is doing his (underpaid and unappreciated-by the public, that is) job trying to accommodate as many people as possible, and wants to cut up on the bus!
And the passengers! God have mercy, this group of people is cut from a generic cloth compared to how the public handles themselves 20, 30 years ago. I remember the times if a passenger used abusive language, smoked, cut up, smelled really bad, even ate on the bus, he had to go! And if you didn’t have fare back then, tough luck.
Try doing that today!
Now on occasion as a driver you have to stand your ground, and put a passenger in his/her place. I mean, we can only tolerate so much from the public, there were-and will be- occasions where we will check you if you get out of pocket with us.
But the public aren’t stupid either, they know the new drivers when they see them, and man, they know how and when play you, when to push your buttons. But I eventually caught onto it. A job like this will make a man/woman out of you, that’s for sure!
Well, I’ve said more than anticipated for one night, there is gonna be a Part 2 to this.