Talk about a tough weekend...
I had to remind a customer/passenger that the next bus was 30 minutes behind us and invited him to catch that bus...
Wait, let me start over:
Everybody who rides the bus knows that no matter what time of day or what day it is, there are always "regulars," the same folks who get on at the same time, sit in the same seats, see the same other regulars and get off generally at the same stops.
And of course on days like this weekend, we have parades and festivities downtown so we have a bus load of other folks joining us in our regular trips back and forth.
This weekend, I had a bus full of both.
People were laughing and I could hear conversations and music from headphones.
A normal trip.
At one point, an irregular passenger gets on but only has dollar bills.
He puts his first two dollars in then asks me for change before he puts the next dollar in.
I'd already asked him if he needed a transfer, to which he'd said yes so I had the cut transfer in my hand, waiting for him to pay his fare and take the transfer.
I answered him that the fare box doesn't make change.
He replied, "Well then that's all you get!"
I could tell he was a bit tipsy and it's not my place to argue, nor did I want to.
I simply put the transfer away (as he hadn't purchased it) and said "Thank you, Sir."
He walked back to his seat
I closed the door and we carried on our ways down the road.
Eventually the alcohol began talking through this passenger and he started yelling, "Kill all the white people."
He started including specifics about passengers on the bus.
It's my job not to reward negative behaviour like this by acknowledging it.
I don't ask them to stop, I don't start arguments or debates.
Eventually other passengers take care of them or these rowdy folks simply leave.
But the happy bus turned quiet.
Everybody was giving me big puppy dog eyes in the mirror.
So I pulled over at the next stop.
Nobody had pulled rope.
Nobody was waiting at the stop.
I pulled over, set the 4 ways, set the brakes, put the bus in neutral, opened all the doors and unbuckled my belt.
I turned off the air conditioning so it was quiet.
I cut a transfer that lasted the rest of the day.
As I stood up I realized that the entire bus was deathly quiet.
The music had been turned off.
Even the drunk guy had shut up.
The hum of the engine was almost a whisper.
All eyes were on me.
I'm not a little guy.
You can't really appreciate me until I stand up, which I don't normally do while I'm driving!
I walked to the middle of the bus, to where this gentleman who'd had a few too many drinks was sitting.
I very quietly informed him that the next bus would be arriving in 30 minutes.
I offered him the transfer.
He grabbed it, stuffed it into his pocket and said thanks.
I held my hands at my waist, in front of me and used one finger to motion/point at the door.
It really was all that was moving on the bus and he saw it and started shaking his head then said, "NO!"
I asked him if I needed to call for assistance.
He said yes.
So I walked back to my seat and remembered a trick that my sister in law uses on my nephews.
She pretends to call my brother when the boys get out of control.
They hear her talking to their father and suddenly behave.
So I picked up the phone and called for help.
Instead of hiding my call, I faced the bus, the passengers and this gentleman while I spoke on the phone.
I clearly let him hear what I was saying, my description of him and that I needed help.
For a minute or two he screamed and threatened but I think that length was all in my head.
I don't think he lasted a full minute before bolting out the back door.
I hung up the phone, turned the air back on and before I had reached the end of the block, the bus was back to being filled with music, laughter and conversation.
It wasn't until folks started getting off at their stops that I was surprised by their 'Thank you's.
Almost to a fault, every single passenger thanked me and supported the action.
One of the regulars, an older lady said to me, "I knew you were going to get serious when you pulled over and I heard the AC go off!"
I tried not to laugh when she said that.
I tried not to say you're welcome as they thanked me.
I really felt badly that I had to invite a customer to take another bus.
I didn't actually refuse service to a customer.
I was simply suggesting to him that he may be better served on another bus.
That's not bad, right?
As Always, "Welcome aboard, find your seats - Let's Roll!"