Bus Rider

Confrontation

Confrontation

It’s not readily apparent in this image but anyone who has travelled by urban public transit in any city knows that there’s plenty of hostility that occur in such circumstances.

A city bus pulled up to the stop I was at to pick up a long line of travelers. I got on and took my seat in time to see a young father, likely in his twenties, walk right up to the entrance doors with his little son; probably not much more than 5-years old, beside him. I know the bus driver, likely in his late twenties to early thirties, didn’t look directly at the man and boy who were about to be the last ones to board but I believe he had at least peripheral sight of them. It didn’t matter. The driver closed the door in the faces of the man and his boy anyway. The driver must have really wanted to keep his schedule.

The man at the windowed door knocked on it for it to be reopened. I wasn’t the only one watching what was quickly transpiring. Many passengers saw the driver completely ignore the man outside with his child, and pulled away from the curb.

There was a momentary look of incredulity on the face of the rejected man, and then his shout of “Hey!” resounded through the entire bus by its open windows. While heads began flipping from side-to-side between views of the driver and the man being left behind, I also saw that young man pick up his boy in his arms and start running.

The bus turned to make its proper route around a block of the Durand neighbourhood. Some of the passengers started cussing out the driver under their breaths. Although I couldn’t see the running man, I knew which alleyway shortcut he was most likely taking on foot.

Having an idea of what was about to go down, I reached into my bag for my camera. I didn’t bother changing my exposure settings. I didn’t have time to do it for a bright picture. I knew that if I handled the situation right, and some luck was in my favour, I’d still be able to make heavily shadowed or silhouetted images without appearing to be a Ray Metker copycat.

Sure enough, when the bus came to its next stop halfway around the block, that furious father was waiting there with his son, first in line of more people waiting to get on. He was not going to be denied this time. The bus driver must have known what was coming next.

This shot is of the young father the second after he got on. I overheard, “Why did you leave us like that?” He was greatly controlling his tone but it was still clear that he was far less than impressed. The driver didn’t seem to respond, and the question was repeated two more times.

The father took a seat with his son near the front of the bus. A passenger beside them chimed in and began heckling the driver. I couldn’t make out what was said just then but I did hear the driver call back with, “Hey, I pay my taxes too!”

From where I was crammed in on the ride, I heard a number of other unintelligible things that were exchanged along the way. By the time I got off the bus on the mountain, the altercation fortunately seemed to have cooled.

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7 thoughts on “Bus Rider

    • The Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) is operated by the city, as to be expected. Some drivers are tremendously personable and others are downright miserable. You never know what you’re going to get each day.

      On days when I’m not driving, I take the bus. I can remember one time I took the bus everyday at the same time, and always got the same scowling driver. I’d always say, Good morning,” to him and would, at most, get a grunt.

      One morning after greeting him he actually got out of his seat, followed me to the rear of the bus where I went and asked really angrily, “What are you always saying, ‘Good morning,’ for?”

      I said, “Why not? It’s a decent thing to do.” He shook his head and went back to driving.

  1. I bet they are under a lot of stress, but there is no excuse whatsoever for leaving the father with the boy behind. I have seen worse things happen in my town like squeezing people with bus door. It gets so crowdy here that we do not say good morning to our bus drivers, we are just lucky if we don’t get squeezed by the door with one foot out.

  2. HSR drivers are definitely under stress. They’re responsible for the safe transport of their human, and occasionally animal, cargo. They’re also responsible for not casuing accidents on the streets. I would expect that to be deeply stressful.

    I haven’t yet heard of a bus driver getting a thrashing from a citizen but the potential is certainly there. I have seen some get royaly cussed out by men and women, young and old, passengers and motorits, who are apparently hell bent on expressing their wrath for no good reason.

    I’ve also personally seen passengers, adults and children, have the rear bus doors closed on their bodies because other passengers stand in parts of the aisle that block the driver’s view of the doorway mirror.

    I met one man who was struck by a bus and sued the city. He bragged to me about how he came away with $40,000, and used it to buy his first Harley Davidson; I’ve seen the bike.

    Yes, nevertheless, showing common courtesy is apart of the driver’s job too. They’re not just representing the city to the local citizens but also visitors which includes potential investors.

    I will also add that as unionized employees, they’re also paid very well to do that job. Many of their passengers will not see the kind of money that HSR drivers make, and take the bus because they can’t afford a car.

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