I recently read a study that shows transit operators to be the most depressed group of workers. I can vouch for it personally. Lately, I've been pretty blue. Wait, I'm Dekie Blue, and far from pretty. But seriously, the job has been taking its toll. If it's not management pressure to be perfect (whatever that is), it's the public's attitude toward us. People in traffic are more rude than usual. Passengers are surly. Maybe it's the weather. It sure has been hot and sticky lately. Either way, any operator is apt to wear down after a while.
A dear lady operator friend of mine this evening looked truly sad when I walked into the garage and the end of my shift. She's usually smiles and cheeriness when I see her. Tonight she looked up at me to reveal her sweet, expressive eyes were rimmed with tears. Instead of the usual "Hey how are you," I just asked if she could use a hug. She hung her head a moment and sighed. "Yeah," was all she said.
As I embraced this battle-worn lady, I felt a world of sadness all around her. She seemed empty, spent. I know what that's like, but I usually hide it pretty well. Tonight, my friend could not. So I just held her an extra few seconds. Sometimes actions are more helpful than awkward phrases nobody in that state wants to hear. I walked away silently so she couldn't see my own tear dripping downward.
On my route today, as I was scanning the side of the street, I saw a man sitting in a wheelchair. He looked up as I rolled by, and held up his middle finger at me. I'd never seen him before. He wasn't near a bus stop, so it wasn't as if I was passing him by. It was just a cruel gesture, and it summed up how many people have treated me this week. Normally, I could laugh off something so childish and silly. Today, it seemed to become a thousand-pound weight that plopped down on my already-drooping shoulders. Maybe the guy is mentally ill, or he had an imaginary friend tell him I'm an asshole. Either way, I took it as his general outlook on bus operators.
We don't just sit and roll around easy-pleasy every day. Transit is grueling, it's often painful, and it's humbling. Our management tells the media how "valued" we are, but treats us as if we're mere annoyances to be dealt with. Like pigeon shit on their expensive suits, rather than vigilant professionals who provide millions of safe rides every week. If not for US, there would be no THEM. We're no longer a team, but a divided mass of radioactive waste.
Last I heard, there have been 52 crimes (assaults, menacing, etc.) on my brothers and sisters this year. In 2016, there were 55 total. Yet management boasts how "with reported crime on the system low," they don't feel the need to issue their new lame threat of permanent exclusion. I'm so not impressed with how they're dealing with our being pummeled in the seat, spit upon, threatened and menaced just for doing our job. Let's not come down too hard on the criminals; it's easier to whip up on a few thousand union workers by not bargaining in good faith in contract negotiations.
Management keeps making noise, but it's the kind a human might make if he were three inches tall. A mere whisper among our bellowing pleas for help. Exclusions are very difficult to enforce. They could provide a board with photos and descriptions of those troublemakers, but instead choose to leave us blind. By the time help arrives, one of these battering dipshits would be long gone after beating us for refusing to give them a ride. Then they'd just catch a different bus and be in the wind again.
In their crime stats, I didn't see any incidences of management personnel being assaulted. They treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as if it doesn't exist or matter. We're suspended for leaving the seat to defend ourselves against aggressors, and sometimes no reports are taken. Their only solution is to cage us in, but they forget we have to leave the seat eventually or pee our pants.
There's a virus spreading within our ranks, and we're all catching it. So yeah, that guy flipping me off brought me down. Maybe he was a paid protester. Whatever. Back at ya, greaseball.
Ladybud in the garage tonight, no explanation necessary. I get it. Love and peace with prayers to all my ATU brothers and sisters. We could all use a hug right now.