A Change in Demeanor Will Elicit a Prompt, Pleasant Ride
By Jéan-Claude Quintyne
One thing that students on campus can agree on is the lackadaisical demeanor of the Loop Bus drivers. Not only does their gloomy, blasé manner whets curiosity for why they took the job in the first place, it also is a target for laying the blame on lateness to class.
Who wants to walk into a midterm fifteen minutes late, out of breath, and upset because of an unneeded hold-up at the main gate? Perhaps a tweak in demeanor will brighten things up.
The Loop Bus, on paper, runs throughout campus every ten minutes on regular class days, and every twenty minutes on weekends and non-class days.
The service is convenient during crunch time, for instance when a student taking public transportation arrives at the Victory Boulevard entrance with only fifteen minutes to get to a lecture at the Center for the Arts, or a lab session on the south side of campus. And it comes especially helpful on days when the weather is bad.
What isn’t helpful though—and what I’d like to call a mini psychological game the bus plays—is arriving at the Victory entrance and noticing the Loop is there, hoping that it won’t pull off the moment the S62 stops.
While one may think it’s a good thing that the Loop hasn’t pulled off yet, it’s also a bad sign, indicating that it’s going to be there for a while.
Yet this wasted time isn’t the fault of the drivers, but of the schedule, one awkwardly structured on the fives, fifteens, twenty-fives, thirty-fives, and forty-fives of every hour; I’m screwed out of getting to my 10:20 class on time if on a bad day I get to the entrance at 10:18.
But this wait wouldn’t seem so bad if the drivers didn’t look as if they’d lost their treasured stuffed animal a few moments before.
Students shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around the drivers to not worsen their day. It’s odd that students have to sigh and glare at the drivers with the hope that she or he would suddenly be possessed with the desire to jump behind the wheel. And students should not have to pound on the window in an attempt to urge the driver to drive the bus.
Observing the way some of the drivers get some fresh air, smoke, or discuss an issue with a colleague is painful. Why are they so sad? It’s hard resisting the impulse to ask them “What’s wrong?”; “Why are you here?”; or “What’s wrong with you?”
At times watching them wait for the scheduled time to leave becomes so irritating that it’s easy to forget that there’s a schedule at all.
There have also been times where I’ve been horrendously late to class and, in between stops, new drivers would take over—this is often a grandiose event.
Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I being an ungrateful passenger. On many occasions the bus has brought me to class ten minutes late opposed to twenty and safely transported me off campus in awful weather.
Perhaps the drivers have taken the job to make ends meet. Maybe it’s the only gig they can land to put their children through college.
But being uncomfortable on the bus shouldn’t be routine for passengers. Once, a driver began to drive off before a woman struggling with a stroller could sit down and proceeded to urge her to “sit anywhere”.
Twice this semester I’ve been on a packed Loop as it almost got into an accident—one of which was the fault of the reckless driver of a sports car—and twice did these near misses follow an angry rant from the Loop driver. Anger kills focus.
I’m fairly certain that the irritable ten minutes between trips could dwindle to two if they’d not seem as hostile.
Take into account—I’m speaking to the drivers now—that the lives of the passengers are in your care. They care enough to board the vehicle and rely on you, show them appreciation.
The same goes for passengers; please remember that you trust them with your lives each time you board.
Even if it isn’t the greatest of days, there isn’t any logical sense in ruining everyone else’s. Sometimes a smile is worth it.
This is increasingly important now that word is circulating that a $40 transportation fee may soon be added to tuition in order to shrink the college’s $1.5 million debt.
The last thing Loop service needs is another complaint that taints their service.