Friday, August 9, 2013

The worst kind of bus driver harassment: Chatty Cathy(ies)

This woman (code name Chatty Cathy) was taking the GO bus I was on to head into Toronto for some shopping. Then she was planning on visiting her sister in Scarborough and realized she may have to TTC it but someone told her she could use DRT Pulse to travel on Kingston Road and she figured she could transfer in Oshawa and take the other Highway 2 bus. This weekend her sister said she could come to the cottage but it's a little far and the water levels haven't been great so the dock is now a dry dock and there's been problems getting the bass boat into the water. Plus, she hasn't water-ski'd in years so she's not sure she wants to do it because last year she had knee surgery and her doc was saying she shouldn't put a lot of stress on the joints so she's been doing some walking but normally she tries to avoid strain. Sometimes she'll get on the trampoline in the backyard if her nieces and nephews come over but she has to take it easy. Back in the day when she used to come to the Oshawa GO Station to take a train to the city, she would drive from Newcastle but the traffic now is so much worse and it's just better to take the bus. You can let someone else do the driving and you don't have to worry about road rage and bad drivers or accidents ...


From the time I boarded the bus to the time we arrived at the Oshawa GO Station, you never shut up. Not once. You talked the driver's ear off for 20 minutes and you must have started talking when you boarded the bus 30 minutes before me.

In fact, I believe if it wasn't for the design of the bus driver's operating space, you'd be sitting in his lap if you could.

Yes, taking the bus does mean someone else does the driving but you're dead wrong about avoiding accidents.

You were the biggest distraction and challenge facing this driver the whole bus ride. He's working! You're not. Your job is to sit there and shut the hell up. It's hard for the driver to focus on all the road rage and bad drivers around him while you're nattering on about your shopping trip, your knee, your trampoline challenges, your sister's lake issues and how to get around Scarborough.


The driver didn't tell you to cease and desist because you probably didn't give him a chance. I'm certain that the best part of his day was when you got off his bus!

I don't work for GO Transit. I've got nothing to lose if I piss off another passenger. I told this lady as she walked toward the train once we were dropped off at the station that she can't distract the driver.

Needless to say, she was hurt and she took the opportunity to tell me so when we met up again on the train.

I told her, plain and simply because it's true, if he had crashed because he blew a red or missed that driver attempting a left turn because his brain was trying to process her conversation instead of the bazillion things happening around him, there'd be a lot more things hurt than her feelings.

I generally like all of my GO bus drivers. Seeing the one I normally see in the morning when I am on time makes my whole day because he is my favourite driver, but I am respectful of the fact that he is AT WORK. I keep it to a minimum and if I have something I want to share, I wait until he's stopped at the station. That's when he's got time to listen to me and not worry about someone slamming into the bus because he missed a red light.

If you really need to talk to someone THAT BADLY, phone a friend or make a bus buddy. Problem solved.


Anonymous said...

In a way, I feel sorry for her, b/c she must be very lonely to have to talk the driver's ear off for that long.

But at the same time, it is a safety issue.

Ginny said...

Well written but I still think the driver shoulders some of the blame here.
Aren't they trained on how to diplomatically and politely tell a Chatty Cathy to be quiet?
They're being paid to drive. They should be able to establish the rules of their workplace (the bus) for all the passengers by simply reminding them that he is working, traffic is complex and it be best if he refrain from conversation so he can concentrate fully on the task at hand.

How on earth could a GO passenger complain about that?

CSR: How can I help you?

CC: Um hi. My bus driver asked me to be quiet. He hurt my feelings.

CSR: Were you distracting the driver?

I realize that for some people, they don't consider conversation a distraction, but it is. Before 911, passengers couldn't just casually approach the cockpit of an airliner and strike up a conversation, that was forbidden.

People aren't allowed to climb into the locomotive of a train and ask the engineers their thoughts on global warming.

People take advantage of bus drivers and the open space of their "office" and that's negligent but the drivers need to advocate for their safety and passengers safety by asking the chatter be kept to a minimum.

I had a DRT driver pull over and approach a young man to stop playing his dubstep on his iPod without headphones because he was having trouble concentrating on his driving.

The iPod listener refused saying there was no law about him playing music so the driver asked him to exit the bus.

It got VERY heated and myself and a few other passengers had to get involved to back up the driver.

Someone has to speak up and it has to be the driver.

C.J. Smith said...

I don't. She was welcome to talk to anyone else. Elderly ladies strike up conversations with me all the time and I engage them because at least they're talking to me and not the driver.

Her body language was very telling. She wanted the driver to be her sole audience. My only regret is not butting into the conversation at the time and have her engage me instead of him.

C.J. Smith said...

Wow. I don't get a lot of well thought out comments like yours and I appreciate the effort and the insight.
Thank you!

Squiggles said...

Good gravy! When did she stop and breathe? I got winded just trying to read that first paragraph.

People like her are so absolutely clueless. About themselves, others and their surroundings. They are the same people that pull that 1 item at the bottom of a pyramid, the things collapses when they are 3 aisles over and wonder who caused that mess (and possible that person should be more careful because people could get hurt).

I agree with an earlier comment. The driver should have said something. Anything. I am pretty certain customer service would have backed him up if Cathy called in to complain. Though with her hurt feelings, that may not have happened.

Ginny said...

Aw, thanks.
I rarely feel I need to comment because we're cut from the same cloth it seems but this struck a chord because my dad is a retired TTC streetcar operator.
He had no problem with telling people the rules.

sasgirl said...

Shouldn't there be a sign at the front of the bus saying "Please Do Not Talk to Operator While Bus Is In Motion"?

That will give the driver something to point at or mention if someone starts talking. :)

calvinhc said...

Like on the Simpsons, the driver need only tap that sign.

If CC continues to go on, the response should be, "Don't make me tap the sign again!"

George said...

I wish I could find that Simpsons clip. It was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Mississauga Transit has those signs, or they did when I took it a couple years back. Those signs are awesome.

People don't read signs. Even when those signs have pictures, they don't see them. Do not block doors, mind the gap, no smoking, no bikes, and so on.

Pointing out those signs to the person ignoring them, and saying "Hey, look, it even has pictures in case you never learned how to read!" doesn't go over well with customer service.

Anonymous said...

I work as a driver for GO and I wish we could tell the Chatty Cathy's of the world to shut up or stop talking on the cell phone or stop playing loud music but the problem is that if they complain to GO we get disciplined for bad customer service.
You the passengers have to take action, instead of you telling her to shut up after she got off you should have told her while she was chewing the drivers ear off.
When someone is talking loudly on the phone you guys should say got nothing to loose but I can loose my job if I do.
But I still want to thank you for discussing about this problem and knowing that the passengers value the effort that we put to get you home safely...happy trails

C.J. Smith said...

Challenge accepted!!!

Anonymous said... can actually get fired for putting safety over customer service?

How about Metrolinx realizes that by putting safety first, you are actually providing good customer service to everyone else. Afterall, I am paying GO to get me there safely.

GO needs to get its priorities straight.

Anonymous said...

#anonymous...I did not say fired I said disciplined for not being courteous to passengers.
I know of a driver who politely asked a passenger to refrain from talking to him in irder to concentrate on his driving and he was suspended after the passenger complained that the driver was rude to her...yet no other passenger came to his defense even though it was a full bus during rush hour.
We are here to provide a service not to entertain people and to jeopardize your safety.

Anonymous said...

That's f$%$#ing ridiculous. Disciplined for asking a passenger not to distract the driver.

Anonymous said...

GO bus drivers are the most useless cowards in existence.

I take the bus back late at night regularly and I've routinely seen drunken jackasses verbally abusing and threatening other passengers while the useless driver sits at the front cowering.

It's only going to be a matter of time before someone records one of these incidents, uploads it to YouTube or sends it to the media and well, we all know how well that turned out for the TTC.

And frankly, I'd be glad for it. It is completely unacceptable that they are charging these prices for fare and completely ignorning passenger safety like this.

C.J. Smith said...

Most of these drivers are fathers and husbands who have to balance their personal safety w/ what has been outlined by their training when/when not to intervene.

I'd like to believe many of them alert Operations to disturbances on buses which then contacts police.
Or, dispatches Transit Safety to be at the station/destination when buses arrive.

The scariest ride for me involved a drunken, abusive passenger who was swinging a full beer bottle at people (hidden in his knapsack I guess at boarding). The driver pulled the bus over and went outside to call for help. However, we we left cowering in the back of the GO bus because this asshole was in the aisle. When someone confronted him, he got verbally abusive and extremely agitated and I told everyone to shut up and leave the guy alone.

Eventually someone managed to release a window and started to climb out of the bus. The driver was on the steps several times to monitor the situation but he is not a cop and I never expected him to do more than what he did. Heroics are best left to those with weapons and training.

Eventually the cops showed up and got the jerk off the bus.

It took me hours to calm down when I got home but even to this day, I don't hold the bus driver accountable. The guy wasn't raving when he got on. It was 20 minutes after that he started to go off.

Anonymous said...

I commend the driver in that case for actually doing something but a majority of the time, I've seen the drivers do NOTHING!

I'm sure threatening to kick these idiots off before their stop of calling the cops would be enough but most of the time, these useless cowards do absolutely nothing.

Their husbands and fathers? How would they feel if some drunken idiot was threatening to, "beat ths shit" out of their wife or daughter for asking someone to turn their music down as I saw a few weeks back?

Would they just sit at the front cowering as I often see these useless cowards doing or would they intervene.

Again, I hope someone records one of these incidents, uploads it to the internet or sends it to the news media because the fact that GO Transit does nothing about these incidents most of the time is shamefull and frankly, they deserved to be embarassed.

C.J. Smith said...

I'm sorry you witnessed that.

Are you implying drivers risk a knife to the jugular and bleeding to death on the floor of a bus to prevent an act of crime?

I don't expect this from anyone whose job is to drive a bus. Leave the policing of bad behaviour to the professionals.

What you witnessed was awful but are you angry because the driver did not call for help? Then yes, that's a warranted feeling. And you should report it.

But I hope you're not expecting a driver to do more than that, are you?