Another city and another fracas between a bus driver and a passenger!
Eager, no doubt, to get in on the publicity that Cleveland bus driver Artis Hughes received when he popped Shi’Dea Lane with that right uppercut, a Baltimore Mass Transit Administration driver was caught on a cell phone video tussling with a passenger.
Both the driver and the passenger are female, so at least there will be none of that “a man should NEVER hit a woman under any circumstances” nonsense here. (That rule simply wouldn’t apply if the woman were, say, of the size and athletic skill of Laila Ali, and the man stood around 5 feet, 2 inches, weighed 100 pounds and was 70 years old, would it?)
We are left with the nagging questions of exactly who was at fault, and why? Was it the bus driver? Did the passenger get out of control and force the driver to do what she did? Or did the driver lose it?
When I was in the Air Force, my basic training sergeant was fond of telling us, “the bad stuff settles at the bottom, and that’s where you guys are: the bottom.”
Of course, he didn’t say “bad stuff.” He used a one-word, four-letter term that might be described as a bit more scatological. But we got the message.
I’ve been a journalist nearly 20 years, and that rule has changed. For me, the “bad stuff” doesn’t settle at the bottom— It kind of rises to the top. So here is who, I’m blaming for that bus driver-passenger dustup on that MTA bus. MTA executives.
They are the ones who were supposed to send a message, loudly and clearly that physical engagements between bus drivers and passengers will not be tolerated.
Indeed, once the incident went viral, MTA spokesman Terry Owens was on local news channels talking about the MTA’s “non-engagement” policy vis-à-vis bus drivers and passengers.
Yo, Big T: did the driver in this particular case get that memo? Would you SWEAR to that fact? Because it doesn’t seem she did get it.
For years I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that MTA honchos kind of tolerated questionable, rude and sometimes downright nasty conduct from their drivers, especially in the way they treat customers. I base that conclusion on my experiences in the years when I was a regular MTA bus rider.
Full disclosure: I now drive my own car, so I seldom ride MTA buses these days. When I do ride MTA, I use the subway. The last time I was on an MTA bus was, I believe, during “Snowmageddon” back in 2010.
Hey, why should I have driven my car through that mess if MTA buses were operating?
In the days when I routinely rode MTA buses, I remember the times drivers would blow right by me and other passengers, standing in plain sight on the bus stop, frantically waving our arms trying to get the moron to stop.
I remember spats between bus drivers and passengers. Sometimes the passenger was at fault; other times, it was the driver. Sometimes both were equally at fault.
In such instances I tended to sympathize more with the drivers. I have to concede, 99 percent of the bus drivers are cool, or at least they were when I was riding the buses. It was only rare that I encountered a bus driver with a bad attitude.
Bus drivers, on the other hand, might have to contend with four, five, perhaps a dozen rude passengers in one day. I can see where some drivers might snap.
I remember one incident that left me convinced those running the MTA don’t give the proverbial tinker’s dam about how drivers treat passengers, the proclamations of indignation spewing forth from MTA headquarters about the recent incident notwithstanding.
This incident involved a beef between a passenger and a female bus driver. The driver was particularly nasty, which didn’t bother her one bit.
She gave the passenger her name AND identification number. Then she DARED the passenger to call MTA and file a complaint.
There’s only one reason, I figured, the driver would do that. She knew NOTHING would happen to her. Not a blessed thing. She knew nothing would happen to her because disciplining rude, nasty drivers was not how MTA executives rolled. At least not then!
If things have changed, MTA honchos are going to have to go quite a ways to convince me of that fact.