Window Seat: Seriously uncool bus driver makes passenger (me) lose it
I’ve used this space once before as a bit of a soapbox to relay details of a complaint I had against a Vancouver bus driver, and I am loath to turn Window Seat into a personal bully pulpit for this sort of thing… But just one more.
As I type this I am still fuming at the unhelpful, unfriendly, and just plain uncivilized behavior of a late-night driver on the #135 route eastbound to SFU Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.
I had finished a tiring Tuesday-deadline, morning-to-morning shift at the Straight and taken a #14 Downtown after midnight, bound for home in East Van.
After a quick stop for a coffee at a 24-hour joint on Hastings near Homer Street, I jumped on the express 135. Normally, there are no seats available on this bus earlier in the day or evening, so I usually take a trolley. But at that time the 135 is half empty, and it gets to Nanaimo Street much faster. So on I went.
Because there are far fewer stops on this bus, I am in the habit of looking up frequently to check my location. While I was so engaged, I saw the familiar storefront of the Japanese restaurant my family and I frequent at the Nanaimo stop. My stop.
No one was getting out at the back of the bus where I was, and I rushed to gather my two bags, directly in front of the door, and jumped up. It didn't take me more than two seconds; the bus was still stopped and not moving.
I tried the doors but there was no response. I rattled them back and forth and yelled up at the driver. They still didn’t open. People were looking at me now. Then the driver started inching away. I yelled really loudly at the driver then to open the doors and that I wanted to get out. Everyone was looking at me now, from the front of the bus to the back. Nothing. The bus was away from the curb completely now, but still moving slowly.
So I ran up to the front, yelling all the way. The driver acted as if he was deaf. I asked him to let me off because that was my stop; he didn’t answer. I said, “Can you please let me off here?” pointing to a regular trolley stop coming up on the next block. Nothing. Stone face.
There was no traffic on Hastings; it was empty. He was also obviously in no hurry, not speeding to make up time like drivers sometimes do. You can always tell. I actually fleetingly wondered if he was enjoying the situation.
Then he said he would let me off. I said, “Here?” He said, no, at his next stop. Which was across from the PNE.
I asked why he didn’t open the doors back at my stop. He asked why I didn’t get out at my stop. I explained, frustrated now, that I tried but the doors didn’t open, the light wasn’t on, and I was yelling my head off for him to open them.
He said he didn’t hear me. I replied that the whole bus heard me. He said it was too loud at the front to hear anything (this was at 12:52 a.m. on a deserted Hastings Street on a dead-silent bus). I then asked him why he didn’t see me when he checked his interior mirrors before he pulled out. That’s when he ticked me off big-time. “Those are for checking traffic,” he replied.
We were at the next stop by then. I walked back to the second set of doors and, just as I exited, I yelled that he should try checking his interior mirrors once in a while; that was what they were there for. And I tacked on an epithet that I’m not proud of and can’t even remember. It might have been asshole or even fucker. I honestly can’t remember. But I realized right then that I’d given up the high ground.
Then I flipped him the bird from the sidewalk, but he wouldn't have seen that, of course, being so busy checking his mirrors for traffic and all.
So I apologize to the other passengers for subjecting them to that parting jolt. But I will never, ever apologize to that asshat driver who knew exactly what he was putting me through by not merely opening the door when he first heard me yell and knowing full well how far the next stop was on that express bus. And he did hear me. Of that I have no doubt.
Then I walked home, cold, alone, and dead tired, a kilometre-and-a-half back down Hastings at 1 a.m.
And I imagined the driver, perhaps chuckling to himself, thinking he’d won whatever little game it was that he was playing.
I guess that makes me the loser.
And why not? I did end up losing my cool, after all. So I won't make a formal complaint to TransLink. They would probably just say something about it being against the rules to stop an express bus between regular stops (even though I’ve seen drivers gladly do that for passengers many times over the years on that same run).
I know several transit drivers personally, all of them good, or even great, guys (and one fantastic gal). But not everyone has the temperament to drive a bus and deal with the public day in and day out.
Maybe this guy is one of them.