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Wednesday, 24 January 2007

In The Wrong

In the interests of keeping it green, I bus to work. This frees up my car for Son M to use and I’m happy to oblige; he deserves a break. Each morning I board the bus, hand over the correct money and say, “Into town please’.
Well, normally I do. But this one morning, I said (for some odd reason even I can’t figure out right now,) “One zone please.”
This particular morning the bus driver happened to be a grumpy one. (Have you noticed how bus drivers in the main fall into either of two categories?)
“That’s one dollar twenty,” he said, “You’ve given me one dollar sixty.”
Now right there is where I should’ve realised that it was actually TWO zones into town. But silly me didn’t think to clarify. I just thought, ‘Oh they must’ve changed it - maybe there’s a special rate before ten o’clock or something now.’ That was my big mistake.
A bit farther down the track, the driver suddenly bellows, “Female who paid for one zone gets off here.” Giving a guilty reflexive jolt, I lurch out of my seat, saying, “Oh. That’s me.” Red-faced I'm sure (although I have to say that one of the benefits of ageing for those of us prone to blushing easily, is that you become hardened and hardly blush anymore. Yay!) I trot up to the front to apologise and explain that actually I wanted to go into town and was that two zones? I beg your pardon. All the time thinking, but didn’t you think maybe that that is what I wanted when I happened to give you the correct money for two zones even though I did - hands up - I admit it, say, 'One zone'? Couldn't you just possibly have figured that one out? Just how hard can it be? (As my youngest sister often says.) But oh no Mr Oscar the Grouch, the driver with a mean streak, you chose to trick me didn't you? Catch me out? As is the wont of all bullies.
Grumpy Drawers grudgingly accepts my payment, but still demands I pay full price again. Luckily I had the correct change, otherwise I just know I would have been turfed off the bus to fend for myself.
But that’s not all.
Not content with haranguing me, he then proceeds to yell out that another female had only one zone clicked on her bus pass, then gets out of his seat and parades up the aisle like a mini-dictator (all he needed was a switch to bang against his trouser leg) until he found the culprit. Now I don’t know about buses in other places, but the buses in Dunedin are very quiet. Almost silent. Through all of this farce, not one person murmured. There were maybe some eyebrows raised and perhaps a couple of what could loosely be termed mirthless, half-smiles exchanged, but nary a word was spoken. It was the silent majority in full bloom.
And so Mr I've-Got-a-Piece-of-Gorse-Stuck-in-My-Undies was allowed to get away with it. Of course he’s in the wrong job - he should be a school caretaker, or a Russian conductor. (I say Russian conductor because the whole experience put me in mind of an article written by a writer friend of mine about an unsettling border experience she had on a Russian train.)
As he makes his way back to the front of the bus, our charming driver sneers in his best ‘sarcastic-teacher’ tone,
“You people need to get to know your zones better don’t you?”
What's this? 'Get to know our zones better'? Hang on a minute mate - this isn’t a classroom here. This isn’t even Russia. This is a bus full of mature adults. At least that’s what I thought it was. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ve been known to be wrong before.


Carole said...

I really enjoyed this. We've all met people like your bus driver. What a prolific blogger you are!

Avus said...

Chiefbiscuit - you were right, right, right! I actually train novice coach/bus drivers and am ashamed of this idiot who is an insult to the profession. I try to drum into them the meaning of empathy and that the cardinal rule is "safety and comfort of passengers at all times".
However it is not a well paid job and if you pay peanuts then you tend to get monkeys for employees. Coach drivers tend to be "people people", but I know that a lot of service bus drivers should not have been let near the job. You should have reported him - I would have done.

dinzie said...

You can and should still report him ... Since you know the day and time and bus number etc ...

Write to the bus company ...send this to the newspapers !! FIGHT THE FIGHT for the rest of us bullied customers by the Dictatorial Meglomaniacal nutcase bus drivers !!!


Oh by the way - it's McDs fault you have yet to receive something in the post ..... Not mine :O)

chiefbiscuit said...

carole - I had my suspicions it was a world-wide phenomenon - human nature being what it is ;)

avus - I shall have put to write a blog about the pleasant and friendly bus-drivers - but somehow it doesn't make as interesting a topic ;)

dinzie - I might report him yet ... but as I said to ABM I got so much satisfaction just writing this post, that I felt appeased somewhat.
Hmm .... I'm curious about what I am going to receive in the mail now ... Shhhhh don't tell McD but she's also going to receive something in the mail - it's somebodies birthday on Sunday ;) ;)

leonie said...

sounds like a decidedly unpleasant experience.

Remiman said...

Grumpy Drawers? That is priceless. I'm roflmao. To take such an obviously aggrevating situation and turn it into a "Mr. Bean" comedy sketch is so you. I loved it.

Just curious, if he'd been a jovial sort, what would you have labeled him? ;-)

Jan said...

I certainly hope G Drawers isn't driving your bus tomorrow. I expect you'll be very ready for him! Enjoyed this; What A Clown!

woman wandering said...

Oh report him ... it might be that I have endlessly talked of New Zealand, telling Gert it's a stunningly friendly place.

I was stunned by the bus driver's behaviour, in Dunedin of all places. What a nasty little man he was ... I don't report lightly but imagine if that had been me with my Belgian ... Gert would have died laughing and mocked me endlessly.

wendy said...

For in each blush, I fear a poem is born. But still, at some point, we "quiets" feel an urge to scream so fiercly, we cannot fight it back. Then the world will have to cover it's ears and cower.

(Can you tell how fully I experienced and enjoyed your post??)

Becky said...

Hilarious!!! You should make his life a living hell, Chief. Every day get it wrong. Serve him right.

By the way, Female Who Only Paid for One Zone is not a bad book title.


Belle said...

dear chiefbiscuit,

You have made extraordinary out of ordinary (not to put your experiences down in anyway!) and that is an art. Good work. Lovely in fact.


Anne S said...

I can sympathise - bus drivers in Melbourne are hell. Not that I catch buses all that often. After all, we have trams and trains as well and no one other than the transit police and the occasional out-of-order passenger will hassle you. It's generally accepted that if you haven't got a valid ticket, you can't complain about the fall out.

It's amazing, how some people, when they have a small amount of power, suddenly become little Hitlers. In my experience it's the IT Department at work who demonstrate this most effectively.

paris parfait said...

What a jerk he was! You've told this story so well. And you're right - he needs to be a prison guard or something where he can employ his bullying tactics to full effect. No one who's paying money for a bus ride deserves this sort of treatment.

chiefbiscuit said...

leonie - It didn't ruin my day - he was just a silly little man.

rel - Ummm ... Happy Harry probably!

jan - I did see him yesterday and I said "Two Zones into town" to cover all bases and he didn't even smile (not that I expected him to.)

ww - it was really quite funny! You'll have to enlighten Gert that sometimes kiwis can be small-minded.

wendy - I'm glad you picked that up from the mention of a blush! You shouldn't underestimate us quiet ones! ;)

becky - I like that book title idea - Yeah! I can see it.
I like your idea about making his life a living hell ... why didn't I think of that yesterday when he was the driver again ? Blast it. Oh well, next time ... just for you!

belle - Hi there you! Long time no see. Thanks for your kind words, as always. Have missed you.

anne s - I wish we had trains and trams - used to, but now it's all buses. Ghastly buses.

pp - Yes that's right - I pays my money and I deserves some service! :)

Avus said...

Well you certainly have turned that negative experience into something positive. Next time you see "Himmler" perhaps you should thank him for stirring your creative juices!
Our Kirra Tours coach driver on the North Island (excellent driver and ambassador for NZ) told me he drove service buses for the local Wellington bus company out of season. He said he always made it his aim to get a smile out of each passenger as they got his his bus. Lovely guy - but he would not have got a posting out of you as he would not have been and "interesting topic", as you so rightly say!

Tammy said...

I love the words you used to describe the bus ride. Zones? LOL

GeL (Emerald Eyes) said...

Oh, I feel for you and the other woman. Ugh! Politeness goes a long way. Public humiliation and rudeness I just do not understand.

(I enjoyed your musical response to last Tuesday's post. :) Thank you! I'll be posting personal replies later tonight.)

I have now tried "Sunday scribblings." However, I was a bit too tired to do anything that well, but I lowered my standards, since it's fun to participate.

ecm said...

That's terrible! What is he thinking? But you certainly told the tale with great humor. :)

chiefbiscuit said...

avus - Yes there are some lovely bus drivers, I know. As I say I find they tend to fall into two camps - happy and friendly or grumpy.The grumpy ones make for better stories, yes.

tammy - Yeah ... zoned! :)

gel - it was a weird experience - next time I got on the bus with the same driver, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth - must've had a bad day that day I think. I certainly wouldn't want to be a bus driver I know that for sure.

ecm - Oh yes! I used it - the best revenge!!!


'how this all harbours light'