As I got on the bus Wednesday, the young man in front of me was trying to use his smart phone to show the driver that he had purchased a ticket, but the phone would not load properly to display the paid fare. After a moment, the bus driver said, “Don’t worry about it, take a seat. Some of us just don’t care anymore.” His voice expressed both kindness and a sense of defeat.
The same day I observed a woman and little girl get off the bus. The bus door closed behind them, but the little girl turned back toward the bus, waved at the driver and called out, “Thank you! thank you!” The driver re-opened the bus door, waved and smiled to the girl, and said, “You’re welcome!”
These interactions made me think about the job of driving a bus. Bus drivers are always on stage and very alone in their work. They must roll with whatever craziness inevitably happens when interacting with the public. They listen to stories about catastrophes caused by the bus being a couple minutes early or late. The #12 SW Barbur Boulevard driver is disparaged for not knowing what time the #77 arrives at NE 102nd and Weidler!
The vast majority of TriMet drivers deal with all the randomness and chaos beautifully. I suspect that overall the drivers treat people better than TriMet treats the drivers – the Secretary of State’s audit is here, and examples of opinions on the topic are here and here and here. As a rider, I want bus drivers to be treated well and to be happy in their jobs! I think most of them want to care about their work. Thank you for that, drivers.