Monday, September 13, 2010

HIGH ANXIETY

I had a ball driving the bus for a week to the Minnesota State Fair. People were happy, having fun and behaved on the bus...except for one.

I was driving back toward downtown with a load of people coming from the fair. One lady was in a wheelchair and had an attendant with her. The lady in the wheelchair seemed to be quite negative about everything from the time she got on the bus. I remained my cheery self.

I had just come across the Washington avenue bridge. The speed limit is 45 and slows to 40 before dropping to 30 when you enter downtown near the Metrodome. I was slowing to 40 and my bus quit. Lovely. I was just rounding a corner. Not a good spot to be in, around a corner with traffic coming up behind you at 40 miles an hour. I immediately turned on my flashers and pulled to the side the best I could before the bus coasted to a stop.

The lady in the wheelchair went nuts, yelling "What are we gonna do? Oh No! This is why I never go out...." I tried to calm her while informing my other passengers of the situation at the same time. I told her to relax, the bus had just stalled. I said I was going to turn it off and wait a minute and see if it would start. She continued to fuss. I got the bus going and continued on. I had called the Control Center right away, but by the time they got back to me I was already rolling. I informed them of what happened and that I was continuing my route.

I got onto 3rd street in the middle of downtown and as I approached 3rd avenue the bus quit again. The lady in the wheelchair still hadn't totally recovered from the first breakdown (hers or the bus) and she got even louder. "I have to catch another bus! I have to get to 7th and Nicollet right now! What am I going to do? I should never have come out!" Again, I called Control. I had pulled all the way over to the left curb (it's a one way street) since I was in the far left lane when the bus quit. I put on the flashers and waited for Control to call me back. I tried to calm the lady, seeing she had obvious anxiety and maybe other mental issues. I could see she was highly stressed. In my calmest voice, I told her to relax. Everyone was safe, no one was hurt, it was rush hour and all the buses were running, everyone would get home. It seemed to work for a minute.

The Control center called me back and as I spoke with them, the lady started yelling and freaking out again. Just then, I noticed a big guy in a nice pressed suit standing next to my window. I noticed he had a U.S Marshall badge on. I opened my window and he said "There's no stopping here. What seems to be the problem?" He could hear the woman freaking out. I told him my bus broke down and I had a highly anxious passenger. I was talking to the Control Center to get a new bus and would be gone as soon as I could. He kept looking back at the lady freaking out. Realizing I was dealing with a messed up situation, he dropped all his professionalism and smiled and said "Good luck with that!" and walked away. That made me laugh. His quick change from serious, professional U.S Marshall to looking at me like "glad it's you and not me" and smiling as he made his comment was pretty funny. It's good to see that security hasn't been let down since the attacks on September 11, 2001. I'm sure I was next to a government building and that's why it is marked "No Stopping" all along the curb. Security.

Anyway, Control asked me to go to the back of the bus and open it and see if there was any obvious fluid leaking. I did. As I was coming back, I noticed all of the people were filing off the bus. I had my bright yellow vest on so I stood next to the door hoping cars would see me and move over and not hit my exiting passengers.

I got back on the bus and the lady totally flipped. "You let them all off before me! Mobility is supposed to be first!" I explained that they got off on their own. I didn't bother to correct her about the mobility policy...first on the bus, last off. I didn't think that would be helpful at that time. Instead, I tried to explain to her that I couldn't deploy the lift into a traffic lane. I told her I didn't want her to get hurt. She said "You like them more than you like me!" That was it. How illogical...though not entirely untrue, at this point! I had to get her off the bus before she worked herself into a heart attack.

I got the bus started and pulled straight across the street and up to the curb. What a relief! Now I could get her off the bus! She'd be happy and on her way and all would be well again! Well, not quite. I put out the lift and as she got off she flipped again. "This isn't 7th and Nicollet! I need to be at 7th and Nicollet!" The attendant calmly asked how far it was and I told her if she walked 3 blocks straight ahead, she could catch any bus up the 4 blocks to 7th street. She decided to just walk it.

FINALLY, they were on their way. My new bus came and I finished my day.

All in a days work! The U.S. Marshall made my day!

2 Comments:

Blogger sbuxcivilengr16 said...

Sorry you had such a bad day :( I think the worst ones are the people in wheelchairs that try to run in front to get lawsuit money, have you had experience with any of those?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

sbux - lawsuit for what? We do have a policy that they are supposed to get on first and off last, but we also have cameras out the front door (and window). If they aren't at the bus stop, we let those that are board. If they roll up later that's on them. If the bus is getting full I will stop others to board the chair, just to make sure they have a spot. People are just a little sue happy. You can't sue for just anything....and be successful.

5:57 PM  

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