On Monday I witnessed a lady going out of her way to humiliate and embarrass someone else. I couldn’t believe what I was watching. At first I kept quiet and eventually had to jump in because things were getting out of hand.
The public bus system has contracts with some of the local schools to provide discounted rates to students that rely on the bus for transportation. The bus only stops at the school once in the morning and once in the afternoon to drop off and pick up. On Monday, the teens didn’t hit the button to notify the driver of the stop. She hadn’t driven this route for 5 weeks (can you tell I catch the bus regularly?) and she forgot that she was supposed to drop the kids off at school. The kids all started to get off of the bus at the next stop, grumbling and upset. The bus driver realized her mistake and offered to turn around to leave them at the stop.
Of course, all of us that depend on the bus to get to work cringed because we knew we were going to be late. It was an inconvenience but I figured I’d just have to power walk and try to cut my leisurely 10 minute walk into a 5 minute walk. No sooner did the bus driver tell the kids that she’d turn around did a lady get up and run to the front of the bus to give the bus driver a piece of her mind, at the top of her lungs, in the most obnoxious of ways for 5 minutes straight. About two minutes in, I couldn’t take it anymore. I understood she was frustrated she was going to be late to work but out of the 30 or so of us on the bus she’s the only one that reacted that way.
The kicker is, she got off at her stop about 3 minutes later than usual and only had to cross the street to step into the hotel she works at. The rest of us had to hope traffic wouldn’t cause any further delays before making it to our respective stops. Then there were those that still needed to catch another bus to get to where they work, one we all knew had left minutes before we arrived at the bus station where another bus wouldn’t pass for 45 minutes to an hour.
My main concern was for the driver. Who wants to be yelled at like that in front of a group of people? To her credit, she maintained her composure even in the heat of the moment with someone standing inches from her ear raging and screaming in the loudest voice possible. I told the disgruntled passenger that her message was loud and clear (pun intended) and that at this point she was putting us all at risk. She was distracting the driver, increasing the chance of someone getting hit or having an accident and crushing a small hatchback vehicle.
It’s funny because I always tell my daughter to stand up for herself and others and do the right thing. I tell her that a lot of times people feel the same way but are afraid to speak up, everyone is waiting for someone else to say something first. I wish she could have seen the situation unfold because as uncomfortable as it was, the energy quickly shifted once I said something. Suddenly everyone had something to say and was supporting the bus driver. Telling the angry woman that it was a mistake, we were all going to be late, to leave her alone and just have a seat. No one was unkind or rude, just supportive and protective of the bus driver.
I was nervous at first because I don’t like to speak in public and I knew as soon as I said something in the millisecond of silence when the lady had to stop screaming to take a breath that all eyes would be on me. I felt my face flush and my heartbeat quicken. I knew that I had to say something because if it were me, I’d want someone to stand up for me. I felt so relieved when I glanced around and people were smiling, winking, and giving me signs of support as others began to speak up.
While I felt bad for the driver being shamed for an honest mistake, I was happy for the support she was able to feel. When we got off of the bus at the station, she thanked each one of us for standing up for her and got off of the bus with a big smile on her face. When I got home, I told my daughter of the events that unfolded on that early morning bus ride. I told her that all it takes is one person to stand up and more will answer your call to action. I’m glad it played out that way because I wasn’t so sure in that moment if they would.
This reminds me of one of my favorite shows What Would You Do? I watch and always like to think I’d do the right thing; I can’t say I always do but I’m glad I did what I felt was right in this situation. Are you more likely to speak up for yourself or someone else in situations like these? How do you think you would have reacted? Have you witnessed someone speaking up for another person recently? What are your thoughts on this post or standing up for someone else in general?