Saturday, 9 December 2017

A VERY BAD BUS RIDE

As Ralph recounted, three years ago

On his blog, 
7 December 2017

Anger management

I can understand a lot. I know that sometimes you're just having a bad day or you're simply not in the mood. I can see how stopping your bus to load up a wheelchair can be a pain. It takes time and you're on a schedule. And if you have one of the models with the lift in the back – forget it – the fun is just beginning. From struggling to line yourself up properly and close enough to the pavement, and remembering to power it up properly at the front and at the back to make it work. Don't forget the key to open up the controls.

I thought I've seen it all. Drivers who rolled their eyes at me or told the person they were on the phone with that they need to 'Load a goddamn wheelchair' as they saw me roll up, or even never uttered a word while they were loading, unloading, strapping and unstrapping.

I've seen unruly passengers. Some loud, others appearing unstable or threatening. I can understand a lot, but for the life of me I will never understand what happened Saturday night.

I was waiting at the regular spot for my night bus after a movie showing on campus. I've never ridden with this driver before, although I did recognize him. A few times he either never stopped for me or simply ignored my presence and drove off when other people got off. I should have known this may be not the best idea, just by looking at his angry facial expression as he was coming up and how aggressively he was manoeuvering to get close to the sidewalk.

As he opened the door he started cursing, although not at me, just quietly to himself. And shook his head. He made sure it was clearly visible that he was not happy that he had to stop for me and load me up. Mumbling, making faces, As if I was some kind of punishment, or had flagged him out of spite. And with every minute, as he had to turn things on, get the key, get the controls for the lift opened, it was only getting worse. And I only wanted to get home. Preferably quickly and in one piece, he just happened to be there.

I've never seen a driver so enraged from the moment he saw me until he dropped me off. He seemed furious. And as he was expecting trouble loading me up with the backloading lift, which is complicated to power and sometimes gets stuck at that stage, he got me in without a problem.

In the passing he explained that he hates this bus and they always give it to him – but then all the other drivers are in the same boat. Just ask the driver that made me wait right before him as he couldn't power his. But this man was just very angry. Angry and loud. While it seemed that he was mad at his equipment, as he waving his arms I wasn't sure that this emotional behaviour wouldn't get out of hand. He's cursing and yelling and I don't feel safe. I'm strapped down, couldn't get off the bus or wait this one out if I wanted to.

As he had a hard time activating the lift at my stop, more emotional outburst followed. As it turned out it was his mistake because he forgot to do something, but at that point he started to slap the box that housed the lift controls. It wasn't at attempt to make it work. He felt blinded by range and wanted to blow off steam or punish the bus for not listening to him. It reminded me of how one of my friends, when he was helping to carry me up the stairs, lost his grip and felt so frustrated with himself that he punched a tree.

I wanted just to sit there and let the driver do his thing. I wasn't sure that at some point he wasn't going to turn around and slap me. He was at a point where I wasn't sure if he'd be able to stop himself before he took one step too far. Because everything up to this point only made it louder and physical. I was not only immobilized, but the only rider on the bus. I've never seen a driver so angry, walking back and forth, pacing, wiring himself up and in a way, I'm his prisoner. He doesn't know how to drop me off, so filled with anger decides to drive me to the end of his run, when some other driver shows him how to operate the lift. He then drops me off on his way back.

A lot of things happened to me on RTS buses but I've never felt this unsafe before. I felt that I was locked in a tiny box with an unpredictable man that was flying off the handle. It was beyond the point of trying to talk to him or asking him something. He was not someone at that point you can reason with. Had he come at me, I'd have no way to stop him. And that's a feeling I wouldn't wish on anybody.

Recent transport bulletin from Ralph

Taxi service can be a bind too:


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