Tuesday, June 16, 2015

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An Experience I'll Never Forget...


Have you ever had one of those super weird experiences that you never thought would happen in a million, zillion years? Well, I just had that experience yesterday morning. Figures with it being Monday that the universe would pick that day to remind me not to get too comfortable.

So, like most mornings I ride the bus to my job at a busy hospital OR and yesterday morning was no different, except for the fact that the bus was crowded and I couldn't get my usual up front seat. I've never liked sitting next to people I don't know, mainly because they always seem to want to chat with me. Now, don't get me wrong, chatting is fine, but I love to read and having this twenty minutes to read and listen to soothing music on my Kindle is just awesome! I love to chat and get to know people too, just not during my "me time" on the way to work. Anyway, there are two seats at the front that are single seats, not bench seats where you have to share, so I like to sit on one of those in the morning. Unfortunately, this morning was different. I ended up having to take a seat farther towards the back of the bus. No big deal and I lucked out, no one sat next to me. So like usual, I read and listened to music and just relaxed on my way in to work. When we were getting close to my stop I rang the bell like normal and then got up and went to the back door. Now most drivers automatically open the back door whether there are people in the back or not to be sure that everyone can get off the bus. This driver however did not. Now in and of itself that's not that big of a deal, when it became a big deal was when I called out loudly "Back door, please!" And got crickets for a response.

At this point we're to my stop. I mumble to myself, "Shit! He's not going to open the back door!" So, I begin jogging towards the front door, my steps loud. There is a woman who was at the front of the bus and she gets off. You'll never guess what happened next! Wondering? The driver closes the front door! I'm only half way to the door at this point and I call out loudly, "Please open the door!" I'm thinking to myself, "This idiot is going to drive off and not let me off!" Does the driver open the door for me, does he apologize?  No! Instead he leaves it closed. By this time I'm to his seat, and he leans out of it and leans down until his face is like an inch or two from mine, and says, "It's dark back there, I didn't see you." I clearly got it that he thought he could intimidate me. I only glanced at him as he said this because I had no idea what the wack job was going to do at this point. I said to him, "Okay, fine. Now open the door." Fortunately, he did open the door and let me off. But I had to ask him three times, and he clearly cut off my ability to get off the bus twice. Oh, did I mention there were no witnesses since he waited until I was the last person on the bus to pull this crap?

I still do not understand his reasoning for trapping me on the bus with him. It was only for a few minutes but it was enough to get my heart racing and for fear to slide down my spine. I felt threatened, and intimidated and like my safety was in jeopardy. If you're wondering why I'm sharing this with you, it is for this reason. We are all taught that if we're in trouble, we can flag down a bus and the driver will help us. Someone following you? Flag down a city bus and get help. Someone hurt you and you got away? Flag down a bus if you see one and they'll help you get help. I've even seen advertisements on public transportation saying that if you need help bus drivers are people that can help you. But what do you do when the bus driver is the one putting your safety at risk?

I always thought bus drivers for public transportation were safe, that if I was on a bus I was safe. The fact is this is not true. I filed a complaint against this bus driver as soon as I got to work. I have heard nothing from Metro about it as of yet. My concern is what if he does this to some little girl who's twelve or fifteen and alone who is riding the city bus to school because she missed her school bus. What if this little girl doesn't know what to do or gets scared and this bus driver actually does something other than keeping the doors closed for a minute or two before letting her off. Quite frankly it doesn't bare thinking about.

This same bus driver was driving my bus this morning. In order to stay safe, I sat at the very front of the bus and behind him so I was not visible. I also made sure that when it was my turn to get off there were still people on the bus so there were witnesses in case another incident happened. I also kept my keys handy as a weapon if necessary. And I will be purchasing pepper spray this week so I have that as well. I would encourage anyone who is a woman or who has daughters, nieces, friends with the same to teach these girls and heck the boys too for that matter, that even bus drivers are not safe. Make sure they know what to do to stay safe when they're riding public transportation, and that they should trust no one, including the bus driver. I let myself get too comfortable, and this has been a good reminder to me to always stay aware of my surroundings and what is going on around me.

There will be those who think I'm overreacting to this incident but I'm of the mind, better to overreact than to wind up raped, murdered or some other awful fate. All you have to do is watch the news to know that it is often the person you think would never do something that commits these sorts of crimes.

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