A day in the life of a rookie Muni driver
Photo by Daniel Hoherd
Editorâ€™s Note: Ricardo M. was a Muni driver from 1981-1988. Originally trained on the LRVs, he spent six months at the Metro Division operating the K, L, M, N Lines. In the seven years that he worked as a Muni driver, he drove just about all the trolley buses such as the 41, 21, 6, and others. Ricardo sends us this story about a day in the life of a rookie driver.
Driving north on Mission Street, I came up to this rookie bus driver running a â€œdouble-header,â€ slow and late. The rookie and his bus should have been about 10 blocks ahead of me. As a result, his bus was bursting at the seams, and my bus was almost empty.
We arrived at the 22nd Street bus stop together, him in the lead, me and my bus right on his tail. There were a lot of people waiting, and they looked angry and irritable. As soon as the buses stopped (he in the zone and me double parked behind him) the people waiting ran and jumped on his bus.
Here was this poor sap doing all the work for both of us. And now he was making me late too. Through my rear view mirror, I could see another trolley bus about five blocks back. I blew my horn at the rookie, and when he stuck his head out the side window, I called out to him:
â€œHey, man, youâ€™re making everyone late. Skip stops! Donâ€™t stop for anyone in the betweens.â€
The rookie made a face at me like he didnâ€™t understand, but then he closed his doors and pulled his bus out into the traffic. He went past the 23rd Street stop and double-parked about half a block before the 24th Street intersection and started unloading passengers in the middle of the street.
Obviously, this goes against all the operating Muni rules, and, it didnâ€™t work. The ten people or so waiting at the 24th Street Zone ran into the street heading for his bus.
Just as they were closing in on the rookie’s bus, the rookie slammed his doors shut and pulled his bus into the second lane, away from the running pedestrians. He left them standing there, in the middle of the street, stunned, confused, and completely pissed off. I wanted to pull my bus into the zone, but I couldnâ€™t, that same group of people was blocking my way.
So I opened my doors. As they started boarding my bus, every one of them had something to say. â€œDid you see that?â€ one passenger asked as she went up the steps, â€œHe just took off and left us standing in the middle of the street.”
â€œThatâ€™s what he was supposed to do, lady. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m here–to pick you all up.â€
But another passenger was not so polite: â€œWhat the hell do you mean? Man, you bus drivers are all a bunch of assholes.â€
â€œYes, sir,â€ I tried to calm the man down, but he wouldn’t let it go.
â€œIâ€™m going to report you, you idiots.â€
I could have explained, but I knew it wasnâ€™t going to matter. The hype was up, and when the hype is up thereâ€™s really nothing you can do to stop it.
At times like this, the only thing a bus driver can do is to just sit tight and take all the shit as best as he or she can take it. Hold your breath until the stink passes by.
â€œGoddamned government employees!â€
â€œIâ€™m going to report you too, you son-of-a-bitches.â€
What could I have said?
â€œYes, sir. Yes, man. Have a nice day.â€
Here’s Ricardo’s story about a wheelchair cowboy. Got stories of your own? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org!