The bus was already crowded when it stopped at 3rd and University. Passengers poured in and out, front and back, many eager to leave downtown after a long Monday. As I sat scribbling in my notebook, folks settled into their positions for the ride back to West Seattle.
Without warning, a shrill noise bellowed from the speaker above my head, shooting through my torso and jolting my bottom into a pair of convulsing Bundt cakes.
“Will the woman in the pink scarf sitting by the back door please come to the front and pay your fare?” It was so loud, the driver’s voice contorted like Motörhead in a Tuff Shed, somewhere between one-and-a-half and two chainsaws in volume.
"This isn’t the Rapid Ride! You must pay the fare to ride this coach,” the metallic shriek continued. "Please come to the front, pay your fare and it’s all good.”
My ears rang. All good? Really? I thought. Not for those of us just bludgeoned by your bountiful tweeters, and definitely not for the lady in the pink scarf.
Sitting just a few feet away, the woman gathered her purse and stood, her head bowed. Fifty sets of eyes watched the shamed moocher as she weaved her way slowly toward the front, surely destined for one last admonishment from the captain.
Well that was bullshit, I thought. Come on. Sure, the lady didn’t pay her fare, but you, King County Metro driver, took it upon yourself to hijack your riders’ attention in the most invasive manner available, just so we’d all be present for the awarding of the scarlet letter.
Moments later the woman returned to her seat, her face still pointed at the grainy floor. Passengers surrounded her but all ignored her, their eyes glued to their smartphones like Mrs. Butterworth to the Sunday sports section.
Most of us have encountered our share of bullies, especially growing up. But have you ever observed an oppressive adult and wondered the extreme:
What if that bus driver was on the other side in 1940s Nazi Germany? What if she were given free reign to intimidate, to manipulate or worse?
Would she? Nah. Maybe.
Would she? Nah. Maybe.
Your brain may not perform these types of pointless exercises, but every so often I’ll run across a fellow American who makes me a little happier that the Americans came out on top in World War II.
I’ve always liked the term, “It’s all good.” A friendly, positive phrase, it’s one used most effectively when diffusing an awkward situation.
This time it created one.