On any given day, encounters with OC Transpo drivers can leave me smiling or gritting my teeth.
Most of the time, I find bus drivers in Ottawa just fine — not outstandingly friendly, but certainly not grumpy either. And hey, I know there are a lot of difficult things about their jobs, so I tend to cut them some slack.
A few weeks ago, however, I really took notice of one exceptional driver.
He said hello to everyone boarding the bus. He called out all the major stops. He gave thorough directions to a girl who hadn’t taken the route before.
It was a rare and pleasant surprise to see so much good attention paid to riders who often don’t go acknowledged.
Perhaps it’s like the law of physics — everything must have an opposite and equal reaction — because, sadly, a few days later I had the displeasure of encountering the kind of driver that makes even a short ride painful.
I stood waiting at a transit station with my husband, our passes and tickets outstretched as the No. 97 bus pulled up — the clear rider-to-driver signal that we need to get on this bus. The driver slowed and stopped. No one got off.
Perhaps we didn’t hustle quite fast enough, but just as we were steps from the door, he closed it and pulled away.
We stood, stunned, at the rudeness of the driver.
Seconds later, another bus pulled up and my husband asked when the next No. 97 would be arriving.
The driver, who saw the events unfold, kindly told us to get on and he would call ahead to have the driver wait at the next station. When we arrived, the bus was waiting and many people were boarding. I tried to run, but being eight months pregnant, I wasn’t waddling very fast, so my husband ran ahead to tell the driver to wait.
“You going to stand there all day?” was the driver’s snooty comment to my husband as he waited for me.
“My wife’s coming, she’s pregnant,” he explained.
If my husband hadn’t been half-in/half-out of the bus the driver would have pulled away again.
Maybe the guy was having a bad day, but to me there is no excuse for blatant driver rudeness. Especially when there are others who obviously enjoy their jobs and understand what it means to be friendly.
So, to the two drivers, and to others like them, thank you. And to the driver of bus No. 97, I hope there are no others like you.