Monday, November 2, 2015
Use Common Sense to Avoid Tragedy
While my job as a bus operator pays me well, there are often times the income doesn't keep up with the bills. So the outcome of my income disparity leads me to be a taxi driver on my nights off, in my personal car. Of course, I'm still bound by Hours of Service rules, but in this signup I have plenty of wiggle room so I know my hours won't put me in violation.
The other night was Halloween, which is a very lucrative time for taxi drivers. I must have ferried a few dozen inebriated and costumed revelers in various states of intoxication. It was fun. Unlike those drunken slobs who ride our buses daily, these people were kind and considerate. Since I'm a professional driver by trade, I find it comforting to know I'm providing a valuable service to our community. The partying crowd is becoming more responsible. Even though a ride can get a bit pricey late at night, the other option is the very expensive and dangerous choice of driving while intoxicated.
Just before 1:00 a.m. that evening, as I drove two fellas to their home off Lombard, we came upon a ghastly sight. A man lay motionless in the middle of the street on Lombard at Peninsular, and a vehicle sat nearby, on fire. We safely detoured around this horrible scene, having arrived moments after it occurred. A witness was checking the man's pulse... but he evidently died at the scene. Later I found the news story (Pedestrian Killed by Suspected DUI Driver), which confirmed my suspicions. My heart was heavy, and I was sad to know the family of the deceased would be informed of this senseless tragedy in the middle of the night.
As bus operators, we constantly see people taking foolish chances in traffic. A few weeks back, an 11-year-old girl darted in front of the bus (on Lombard too) she had just exited, into traffic. Even though motorists can't see around a bus, they speed around us all the time. This time, a car struck the child, seriously injuring her. The bus operator saw it happen, and was devastated.
When people do stupid things just to catch my bus, I cannot help but comment. One bicyclist actually said it was none of my business she blew through a red light just to dart in front of my bus and put her bike on the rack. But it is, damnit. Everything that happens in or around my bus is definitely my business. I'm charged with ensuring the public's safety, and if someone does something stupid in the vicinity of my vehicle, it's my responsibility to avoid hitting them. Many of us refuse to reward stupid behavior, and pass up the fools. This gets us in hot water with the transit agency, which sides with the public much of the time. They don't want Clueless Cindy to make a scene, so they actually tell us to give people a ride who truly don't deserve one, in the name of safety. I'm sorry, but if you're too stupid to follow basic safety procedures, you're too stupid to ride my bus.
If only the motoring public had the same training as bus operators do, they might understand how to drive safely. Perhaps those who think they're "better drunk drivers than sober" should wise up. It could save their life, or that of the poor pedestrian I saw lying in the street the other night. Call a cab, and let a professional get you home. It could prevent your loved ones from answering that dreaded late-night knock on the door.