Sunday, 27 January 2013

On getting one’s wishes enforced

Today on the bus a young, apparently healthy student got on at the university bus loop, waited for the bus to fill, then as soon as it took off, rang the bell and promptly got off at the next stop, a mere five minutes walk away.

I sat there shaking my head (well, not literally), thinking why couldn’t he just walk?  I was ready to grumble and mutter about the laziness of today’s youth  --why, in my day we didn’t have any universal bus passes and we walked two blocks when we had to.

I was ready to grumble, but I held back.  And why after all was I grumbling?  The young man’s departure didn’t hurt me; we were stopping anyway to pick up more people before the bus began the express part of its route.  Is there an urge to grumble and criticize others?  I know Confucius would disapprove: When someone does something you think is wrong, he says, think, Do I ever do something like that?  And then work to improve yourself.

So Confucius wouldn’t hold with this grumbling, and I did stop myself mid-grumble, but not because of him.  I was remembering a similar incident from a week before.

That time a whole pile of young students did the same thing, and not only that, pushed their way out the front door, disrupting passengers who were trying to get on.  The bus driver seemed annoyed, but said nothing … then.  However, right after that a girl got off, still at one of the preliminary stops before the express route started, and he lit into her.

“Next time don’t use an express bus as local drop-off,” he said.  The girl said nothing, just meekly departed.

That time I’d also been grumbling internally about the pack of guys who found it necessary to ride for one stop and then got off at the wrong door.  I was ready to grumble about the girl too; this time there was no one getting on at her stop; we wouldn’t have stopped, except for her.  We could have been getting going into express mode.

I was perhaps thinking that sort of thing, and that’s what the bus driver basically said aloud.  But as soon as he did, I recoiled.  I thought, There’s no rule saying how long you have to stay on an express bus.  She rang the bell for an actual stop.  Where did the bus driver get off telling her that?

And yet I felt like telling her myself – except I wouldn’t have.  Not out loud.  I might have thought it, grumbled to myself, but never have spoken up.  And if someone else had spoken up, not just the driver but any passenger, I would have cringed.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Perhaps it would seem like bullying.  From the bus driver it seemed like abuse of authority.  I suppose my dislike of those two things outweighs my displeasure over laziness or misuse of the express service.  Perhaps there are things I want to grumble about but not have anything done about.  People are strange.

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