The Karma of Screaming at a Metrobus Operator

Yesterday morning I jumped on a north bound bus, headed for one of the last days of a really great used book sale at one of DC’s libraries. I got a nice stack of trade paperbacks – Philip Roth, Agatha Christie, Cheever – for $5. I had to wait a minute to take a seat because a woman had her bag in the aisle and was leaning over it looking for something. Awkward, and frankly inconsiderate. Anyway, eventually she tucked back into her seat and I got past her. My favorite seat on the newer Metrobuses is just past the exit, up the riser. Left or right, I don’t care, but I like to be in that first row of seats.

Shortly after I boarded, our bus passed the Zoo.


It was the woman who’d been blocking the aisle. Two things were immediately apparent:

A.) She’s an Australian tourist
B.) She doesn’t know how the yellow pull cord works.

Another passenger showed the woman how to pull the stop cord, and the driver made the next stop, but instead of getting off and walking ONE SINGLE BLOCK SOUTH, this tourist insisted on berating the driver. And, incidentally, preventing the bus from proceeding any farther. It’s not that she didn’t make some valid points – she claimed that she’d asked the driver if this bus went to the Zoo, and pointed out that she was new to this country and didn’t know how to signal the stop.

Okay, fine.

But at the same time, just because you ask a driver if a bus is going to a certain area doesn’t mean the driver can guess what stop you’re interested in. Maybe he thought you meant the Woodley Park/Zoo Metro station. Or maybe you were going somewhere in the vicinity of the Zoo. And since the automated system on the bus announces stops, why would he feel the need to point them out to you?

I’ve seen people get on a bus and specifically ask the driver if he or she will be able to tell them when they reach the stop. I’ve never seen a driver not comply. Assuming “Does this bus go to the Zoo?” is not the same as “Will you let me know when we’ve reached the Zoo?”

On the other hand – the woman’s a tourist, she missed her stop, she’s upset … I get it.

Two or three stops later, the bus pulled over to pick up a passenger. A woman got on, swiped her Smartrip card, then noticed something on the floor of the bus. She held up an ID. “Is this anyone’s?”

The woman who’d shown the Australian tourist how to work the pull-cord gasped: “It’s that Australian lady’s!”

Karma made its judgement about who was in the right, and who was in the wrong, on this one.

3 thoughts on “The Karma of Screaming at a Metrobus Operator

  1. My co-worker and friend, the writer, is great to ride the bus home with. Fight me for a seat next to the smart guy.

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