Thank You, Bus Driver!

Thank You, Bus Driver!

By: Christina Coolidge | Indigenous Program Researcher
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As students, many, if not most of us, are dependent on public transit to help us make our way to and from campus. Some of us spend more time on the bus then with our own families. Many of us plug in our ear buds and skim our readings for the day’s classes, spending little time engaging with other passengers. We live in the digital age, so this is normal practice. I like to people watch, however. I am careful not to make eye contact as I scan the other passengers, noticing their age, height, the clothes they wear, the colour of their skin, if they are alone or sitting beside a friend, or perhaps their boyfriends or girlfriends. On the number 135, mainly other SFU students who are just trying to keep their eyes open, surround me.

I often think that being a bus driver must be a difficult job. We’ve all had our share of strange encounters on the bus and we’ve all got our own crazy bus stories. These strange occurrences happen on a daily basis, some of them are outright scary, but the drivers always show up. Even though it is a thankless position, they are always there to take us to where we need to go, many of them with a smile and a greeting. Public transit is an essential service, and without it, I would not be able to get to school. Where would we be without the drivers?

I have been disturbed lately by the amount of stories in the news regarding assaults on bus drivers. They are OUR bus drivers. They are directly connected to our livelihood and make the majority of our goals and dreams possible. It is unacceptable to me that honest, working members of society who get less than they deserve in terms of wages and respect, are not only taken for granted, but are also in a position of having to fear for their safety and even their lives.

My wish as riders is that we begin to respect and support them. They are someone’s mothers, fathers, uncles, sisters, daughters, sons and friends. They are the safe, familiar faces that bring us home. And if we really begin to pay attention we will also notice the incredibly sweet things that happen on the bus; the toddlers that smile at you from their strollers, the young men who quickly give their seats to their elders, the spontaneous conversations between strangers.

I recently read an article in the Huffington Post, where a passenger on a bus in Surrey, gave the shoes and socks right off his feet to a homeless man who was wearing only plastic bags as shoes. I am also reminded of the driver who refused to stop wearing his Santa suit at Christmas time, simply for the fact that it brought people joy. Living in a city can be difficult, but we live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We have access to public transit and as students we are incredibly blessed to have our U-passes, as it makes life so much easier.

Please don’t forget those people who open the door for you every morning. Don’t take for granted that they have likely been awake before the sun, that they have already seen hundreds of faces but very few smiles, that they may have already been glared or cursed at yet they will be there again tomorrow, to bring you to your work, to your families, to your friends, to your parties, to your children, to your hopes, to your dreams and to your lives. Perhaps, it’s okay to say hello and smile, just so they know their students have got their backs.

 

Beyond the Article

Campaign to protect bus drivers

Driver assaulted in North Vancouver 

Bus driver assaulted in Vancouver

Christina Coolidge is currently attending SFU as a Communications Major. She is the Indigenous Program Researcher with the Career Services department. Christina is a member of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation and her matrilineal ancestry includes Cree and Scottish. She hopes to help build a bridge between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities in order to better understand one another and to live together in a spirit of unity.

Posted on April 22, 2014