Photo by backofthebuspodcast
I had already boarded the 31BX outbound at Davisadero and Pine when a man tried to board by tagging his Clipper card, but it didn’t work. He talked to the driver about it, saying that he had just bought a monthly pass and showing him a receipt for his payment (I’m not sure which month pass he bought and loaded to his card but I suspect it was the September one, which I presume wouldn’t be valid until the next day, Sept. 1). The bus driver said that since the card clearly wasn’t working, he couldn’t let him on unless he paid the $2.
The man got irritated and repeatedly tried to board and walk to the back of the bus, but the driver called him back. After a few times the man got extremely angry, yelling and cursing at the driver and, after a few other riders expressed their disapproval of his behavior, he cursed at the rest of the bus. The driver then said that he might consider pulling the bus out of service because this man was so disruptive. The man eventually left the bus after making sure the driver and the other rides knew what he thought of them (not complimentary, to say the least).
After he left, the driver pulled away from the curb and began to turn down Pine when the man ran up from behind the right side of the bus and crossed right in front of the bus to the other side of the street! He was within two feet of the windshield. It was insane. The driver had to slam on his brakes to keep from hitting this man, and even after he pulled away he kept checking behind him to the other side of the street to make sure the guy wouldn’t do it again.
Throughout the entire ordeal, the driver calmly but firmly stood his ground on not only the non-working Clipper card, but also the guy’s inappropriate behavior. While I would not have enjoyed having to wait for another bus, it was clear that the driver’s reasoning for possibly pulling the bus out of service was for everyone’s safety, and I appreciate that. The man said he would file a complaint and took the driver’s number and route info, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he files a complaint soon. If he does, I think that it should be taken with a grain of salt because I don’t think the opinion of someone who is willing to throw themselves in front of a moving bus just to prove a point is rational or based in reality.
Strangely enough, the remaining riders developed a kind of spontaneous solidarity over the whole ordeal, laughing and chatting with one another about it (once we were far enough down Pine to know it wouldn’t happen again, of course), and many, including me, complemented the driver on his management of the situation.
The one thing that sticks out in my mind from the whole thing was when the guy loudly objected to just paying the $2 fare and sitting down, telling the driver that “it’s not about the two dollars, it’s about the principle.” It was clear to me that to the driver, it was also about principle… about the principles of doing his job, applying the rules fairly, and keeping his other passengers safe as this guy began to melt down.
Props to you, Unknown Bus Driver, whoever you are.