Bus Drivers: Unsung heroes?

I must admit I get really annoyed when people criticize our bus drivers. Sure, some are grouchy. Some have days when they’re especially grouchy.

Most welcome Gracie. A few ask if she bites. Gimme a break.

But compared to other places, we’re lucky. And some of these drivers deserve to be recognized for conduct way above and beyond the call of duty.

For example:

On October 30th, I was leaving a function downtown, so I boarded a #2 bus at 3rd and Pine, sometime between 8 and 8:30 PM.

After getting on, I noticed what appeared to be a woman in a wheelchair, completely covered in a sheet. It was almost like a Halloween costume. Even the woman’s drooping head was covered completely in gauze. Was she still alive? Was this some kind of joke?

Somewhere in Belltown, the bus stopped. The driver went over to the woman (I believe they are allowed to leave their seats for wheelchair passengers) and said, “We are at your stop.” She sort of nodded.

I was sitting up front and I asked, “Shouldn’t we call 911? She looks pretty bad.”

“No, you don’t understand,” the driver said. “She got on at Harborview. She wanted to get off here.”

So the driver wheeled this person, completely swathed in white, looking like a corpse, off the bus, out into a cold, dark night. I couldn’t believe anyone would leave her on the street.

The driver asked a stranger to wheel the woman to a nearby entryway, and the stranger did — a man who’d been waiting, presumably for a different bus. We then continued on our way.

This scene haunts me. On the one hand, I wonder why we don’t have resources to provide an escort (as well as a less public form of transportation) for someone in this condition. On the other, it’s a tribute to the bus system and the driver’s concern.

I wonder if a taxi would have offered the same type of thoughtful assistance, let alone easy wheelchair access.

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