Grace Under Fire: A Thank You Letter to an Outstanding Metro Bus Driver
This past Saturday I had the single worst public transportation experience of my life to date. Before the incident, I tended toward a certain transit elitism, and I would often look down upon those who cite fear of crime and assault as reasons not to ride the bus, tending to dismiss such critics as sheltered at best and racist at worst. While the incident did nothing to dissuade my enthusiasm for transit, it did make me more forgiving of those who would choose not to risk repeating the type of experience we had Saturday.
My wife, myself, and a friend were heading from University St to Belltown to catch some live jazz, so we hopped on the first bus that came along 3rd ave, which happened to be the #1-Kinnear. At Pike St, we heard a middle-aged white male shouting obscenely before boarding our bus, making remarks about how “I never used to be prejudiced until I moved to Seattle and the n**gers made me that way” and, much to my horror as an Idahoan, “I’m from Idaho, we don’t have to deal with that shit.” At Virginia St, a drug-addled woman attempted to board without paying. Though instructed not to stop fare evasion, our African-American driver reminded the woman sternly that payment is required and that she must pay. The woman responded, in his face, by shouting “You’re a f**king asshole, you know that?” At this point the man shouted, “Just board the f**king bus lady. We all know he’s a black piece of shit.” Then, under his breath and to my horror, “You know what we need on these god damn buses? Pocket .22′s. Handguns. That’s what.”
We drove on, through 4 interminable blocks to Battery St, the man making ever more inflammatory and threatening statements. The driver kept a watchful eye on the pathetic shouting man, with a piercing gaze of both boiling anger and immense sadness. Amazingly, he kept his composure and continued to provide us with first-rate transit service. When we disembarked, somewhat shaken, we thanked him for his hard work and professionalism, and hoped that his ordeal would come to a quick end.
So to whoever you are, the bus driver on the northbound #1 bus on Saturday June 19th at 7:30pm, thank you. Thank you for standing up for fare policy in a determined and respectful way. Thank you for providing top-notch service in an atmosphere of hatred, threat, and intimidation. You are a pro of the first degree.