Monday, August 24, 2015

Singers and Complainers

There are all sorts of characters who ride our buses. I've heard wild stories about particular exploits, arguments between passengers, and seen extraordinary acts of kindness just when I was losing faith in humanity.

As operators, abuse comes with the territory. We get yelled at for being late, even if it's just two minutes. People who don't pay attention and miss the bus because their phone is more important than watching for us call in and complain if we drive by their inattentive asses. But this complaint takes the cake.

I recently had the pleasure of driving Line 30 to Estacada, a small town about 20 miles southeast of Portland. It's a pretty drive, through forests, along a curvy stretch next to the Clackamas River. There are farms, wildlife and wonderful vistas to behold. The passengers are usually nicer than the inner-city folks I usually pick up on different routes.

As we entered the city, a gentleman startled me by coming up behind me as I did a traffic check over my right shoulder.

"Whoa!" I said. "Howdy there, sir."

"There's a guy back there singing," he said softly.

"Yeah?" I glanced at my passenger mirror to see a young man with headphones, softly mouthing the words to whatever song his iPod was playing. I could hardly hear him over the bus noise.

"And this bothers you?" I asked.

"It's terribly inconsiderate," he replied.

Well, now. Considering it was pretty quiet that morning, I hardly thought this was a problem. People are louder on their phones than this guy was just singing to himself. Conversations which can be quite lively create more noise pollution than this feller did.

"I'm sorry you feel that way," I said, and left it at that. The passenger sat down. I glanced at him in the mirror; he saw this and pointed at the musical criminal. I just nodded.

As I drove, my ears were more finely-tuned to this 'problem singer'. He wasn't going to win any talent contests, but he could hold a tune. I didn't recognize the song, but it wasn't profane and nobody else complained. I just let it ride and concentrated on safely operating my 18-year-old bus.

A few stops later, the young man exited the bus. Afterward, the older guy repeated himself.

"I think it was just inconsiderate of him to be singing," he said.

I just nodded politely.

"Sir," I said a few moments later, "I've had a lot worse happen on my bus. People scream at each other, or at me. Crazy people give live lessons in their particular brand of nonsense. Couples have arguments over what to have for dinner. Several people try to impress me of their knowledge of how I should do my job. But seriously, a young fellow softly singing to himself is not what I'd consider a problem."

"Well," he said, "I just thought it wasn't very polite of him."

"Duly noted," I growled. "Just be glad it wasn't me doing the singing, or you'd really be upset."

I could have broke out some of my favorite old country-rock songs. One by my beloved Chuck Wagon and the Wheels comes to mind. Sometimes on my deadheads, sans passengers, I'll let loose my warbling voice on the unsuspecting ghost riders. It goes like this:

"How can I love you, if you won't lay down?
It's not romantic, the way I have to chase you around!
You say you love me, well talk is cheap.
You'll never prove it honey, standing on your feet."

Truly, if I had belted out this tune, there would have been numerous calls to Customer Service that day. Regardless, I thought his complaint was silly. If that's the only problem I have to deal with on a run, I'll take it!


  1. Some of these riders just don't get it. The job of the bus driver is to DRIVE the bus, not regulate peoples behavior.

    Rude obnoxious people exist everywhere including public transit.

    Hell if you don't want to be around rude an obnoxious people you shouldn't be on public transit

  2. Be a man and tell the guy yourself if its that bad. People are conditioned that someone else needs to fix their problems.

  3. Of the singing were loud, yeah, I say something. If it's profanity filled words he is spewing out, I say something. But this sounds like plain ol' silliness.

  4. "Loud" voices I think is the legal prohibition under TMC Ch. 28.15. IMO, if they're not being loud, vulgar, profane, disruptive, offensive, threatening, rude, unruly, or unlawful then I've no problem with it. Then again, I can usually fit anything one says or does into this standard as a violation, if necessary. Leave it...