Thursday, September 18, 2008

WASHER SCAM

I try to avoid driving the 18 route. Too many people with too many issues. Unfortunately, I've been driving it about 4 hours a day this week. It is earlier in the morning so most are the good business people just trying to get to work. It gets to be a different, more challenging crowd later in the day and at night. I did have one scam that I had only seen in memos happen the other day.

Two guys got on at 18th and Nicollet. They were probably in their early 20's. Didn't seem to be trouble at first glance. The first guy put in one "coin" and it registered as 5 cents. I looked in to see if it was a nickel and he said it was a token. Our tokens are about the size of a nickel but I'd never seen one register as a nickel before. They are silver around the outside with a copper colored center. I tried to see what he had put in, but it was in a dark spot and I couldn't see it clearly. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and popped up a transfer for him.

His buddy put in his "token" and the same thing happened. Unfortunately for them both, this one landed right in the light and it was CLEARLY a washer. I showed it to them in the window and told him that what they just did was illegal and, at a minimum, they could each get a $180 ticket. I told them to pay the fare or hop off the bus. The first loser claimed it was an accident. Sure. Both of them happened to be walking around with washers in their pockets and they each accidentally put one in the fare box. I told them to pay the fare or get off the bus. The first loser put in a token...a REAL one...and asked for a transfer. I told them I had one fare paid and had given out one transfer already to his friend. When I had another fare, I would issue another transfer. The other loser grumbled and paid and I popped up another transfer.

Thinking the situation was over, I waited for the red light so I could continue on my route. As the losers walked to the back of the bus they loudly talked about what a bitch I was. I told them that kind of language was not allowed on the bus. The first loser said he was "grown" and I wasn't going to tell him how to talk. I told him profanity was not allowed and they weren't going to disrespect me and everyone else like that and ride on the bus. He spun out a few more fowl words and I told them to get off the bus, I was done. They sat there defiantly. I picked up the phone and called Control to have the cops take them off. We had gotten memos before about people putting washers and other items into the farebox so I figured this would be a good opportunity to get these two caught.

I sat there a good couple minutes. People on the bus were telling them I had called the cops and they better go. We glared at each other in the big inner rearview mirror. When they finally realized I wasn't joking, they cussed a little and went out the back door. Seeing how riled up they were getting prior to this, I had already had my pepper spray discreetly taken out, shaken up and ready to go. I put it back in the holder on my belt and was on my way.

Control finally called me back and I told them the situation was over and let them know what had happened. The asked for the descriptions and life went on.

On my way back on the next trip, an older lady got on. She was almost giddy. She said she was on the bus when I kicked those guys off and thought it was great. She said a lot of drivers threaten, but few follow through. She was impressed and happy to see a driver follow through. She was all smiles.

It was good to know some people appreciate when we stand up for what is right. She made my day.

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