Thursday, August 28, 2014

The "Duh" Chronicles

The Center Street Bus Yard in the 1940s.
In the past decade, we've slid downhill in the common sense category. We're plugged in, tuned out, and often oblivious.

An operator buddy approached me this evening, very troubled by what she'd seen earlier. Driving a line that had to detour earlier around a fire, she was already 20 minutes late when she serviced the stop in front of our garage. As she scanned around and in front of her bus prior to departing, she saw a fellow operator in the "duh" position. Head down, eyes glued to her stupid phone, texting away. Since the street has been in various stages of construction for more than a year, there are oft-ignored stop signs at this intersection. This doesn't actually stop traffic. Many vehicles either don't see the signs (doubtful), or think they don't apply (most likely) to theirs truly. Cars routinely zip right through without even slowing down. So here strolls Olga Operator, taking her dear sweet time crossing the street while my friend drums her fingers on the steering wheel, waiting until Olga's safely across before she can proceed. Not once does she look up from her silly task.

HELLO PEOPLE! Wake up, and look up! Step lively, while you're at it, or the next text you send could be from the ambulance on your way to the emergency room. If you're lucky. Good grief!

We see it all day, every day. People are so in love with their phone, tablet, iPod or whatever gadget that they forget basic common sense. What did Mommy and Daddy teach you? Stop, look both ways, and pay attention, you numbskull! For an operator to do this, in front of our workplace, is astonishing.

When I cross this intersection, I look both ways before proceeding. One motorist blew through right in front of me, so close my hair blew in the wind. I screamed at him, "THAT WAS A STOP SIGN, YOU IDIOT!", and I got an IQ-indicating salute in addition to words his young passengers shouldn't have heard. I thought he was slowing down, but he sped up at the last second, as if that stop sign was merely a suggestion. Also, deadheading and in-service buses by the hundreds stop there before proceeding. When I see this, I stop halfway through and wave them on. They're on a schedule, I'm early. Who's more important? That operator always gets precedence, even though I'm in a legal crosswalk. It's called etiquette, being considerate to my brothers and sisters. Common decency, even.

So when one of our own practices the stupidity we loathe, but are accustomed to, in front of our own garage, it boggles the mind.

How can someone walk down a busy street with their headphones on, jamming away to tunes rather than looking out for vehicles that would quickly end their life? Not to mention listening for them. Buses are quite loud, unless your Sonys are rapping your eardrums into oblivion. Conversely, some vehicles are very quiet yet capable of killing you nonetheless. Ever been surprised by the stealthy Prius?

When you calculate the mass of a moving 20-ton, 40-foot vehicle, the chances of surviving being struck by one are quite slim. Of course, any time this happens people automatically assume it's the operator's fault. Also, when a plane crashes, the news reporter almost always mentions the possibility of pilot error. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Pedestrians cross against the signal all the time. They get angry if you beep-beep to get their attention. They never thank us for saving their fool lives, yet we do this countless times every day.

We work very hard at being safe. But the responsibility isn't entirely ours. Save the earphones for when you're safely on the bus, unless you want to chance being under it. Texting should never be done while walking, driving or riding a bicycle. If you don't know why, then you're too stupid to ride my bus. Look for the next hearse instead... people are dying to get into those.

Duh.

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