Buses are an essential part of my life yet I know so little about the women and men who ensure I get home safely every night. But today that changed.
When I boarded my bus this afternoon I noticed the driver tucking a book away as she settled in and greeted me with a smile and friendly hello.
While most bus drivers on my route are quite nice this one was especially friendly.
“Whatcha readin’ there?” I ask wondering if the book is behind her smile. “It’s called ‘Is It Just Me’ by Whoopi Goldberg,” she says. “The title just says it all for me.”
Sandra, who has been a TransLink driver for 20 years, strongly identifies with Goldberg’s no-nonsense approach to the decline of courtesy in today’s world.
“It’s not her normal ‘ha ha’ stuff,” she says. “It’s full of observations and in one chapter she mentions people who clip their nails on the bus. I can relate to that because I’ve seen people do it here.”
As a passenger I get annoyed by rude beaviour on the bus. It’s easy to put up with when you know you only have to take a few bus trips every day but drivers have to deal with it all day.
Some of the worst offenders according to Sandra are cell phone users.
“Sometimes people will sit on that seat directly behind me and talk really loudly on their cell phone,” she says. “It’s very distracting.”
While Sandra frequently greets her passengers with a smile and hello this isn’t always reciprocated. Many transit users file on and off the bus without so much as a hello.
“Only one in 10 people say hello or otherwise acknowledge our presence,” she says.
But it’s more than just being rude. Sometimes inconsiderate behaviour poses a very real safety concern.
“Sometimes people will be constantly flashing their cameras, taking pictures,” she says noting that the constant flashes severely obstruct her vision. “They’re not like you who asked me for a photo. They just snap away until I tell them that if they don’t stop I’ll ask them to leave the bus.”
Bus drivers like Sandra make me glad I miserably failed my driver’s test. I feel knowing that people like her are making sure that people like me get home in one piece.