Excuse me, driver… but I’m not paying!

Anyway, readers, yesterday I had an interesting experience. I pulled up to a bus stop to pick up a young girl, and a really scuzzy looking guy materialised out of nowhere and jumped on at the same time. He had scabs and sores all over his face, two teeth missing in the front and weathered skin.  He was probably about 45 but looked about 70. He put his hand up to the scanner where one scans their MyWay cards upon boarding so a fare is deducted. No noise issued from the machine and I could see that he didn’t have a card in his hand. I called him back and asked him to show me his card.  He said he didn’t know what I was talking about.  I told him that I was unimpressed that he was trying to fudge his way onto the bus. “You don’t just get on the bus and pretend to scan a card”, I told him.  “You come up to the driver and say ‘excuse me, driver, but I’ve got no money, any chance of a quick ride up the street?’”.   He mumbled something at me and I told him I was not stupid, and that he had to pay a fare.  He dug in his pocket and came up with about fifty cents in coins. I told him he could pay full fare or get off.

He mumbled some more at me and at this stage a man approached and offered to pay his fare for him.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Canberra is full of kind-hearted citizens, but for him to do that really pissed me off and defeated the purpose of my telling El Scuzzo he had to pay a fare.  Clearly this scumbag is always trying to scam his way around on the buses and evade paying fares.  I thanked the stranger and then told the scuzzo he could get off or pay a fare.  He kept trying to walk back into the bus and I kept calling him back. I called Comms on the two-way and when they answered, I didn’t speak because Old Mate had come back and dumped a huge wodge of change onto the money tray. I took $2.20 (concession fare) and said “I’ll charge you $2.20 as I am SURE you have a concession card”.  It was not worth asking him to actually show me said concession card for the half price fare.

I issued the ticket and he said “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me”.  I told him he could get off the bus. He said “you’re fucking kidding? After I just paid for a ticket?”  I figured it was not worth the bother of getting him off the bus, but I called Comms back and said “I had a problem with a passenger who was trying a bit of fare evasion on. He swore at me and finally came out with the money for a ticket. It’s not worth trying to get him off the bus so I’ll carry him to Civic. I just hope the bus door doesn’t hit him in the arse on his way off”.  Comms then said they would get the Transport Officers (TO)to meet me when I got to Civic. I told them what platform I would be pulling into and when I arrived, the TO was waiting for me. I pointed the scammer out to him and straight away the TO said “ROBBIE! You have been told not to hassle the drivers. We can get you arrested” to which the scumbag articulately replied “fuck off”.  The Good Samaritan got off the bus and then had a go at me, telling me that he had been a prison officer and psychologist for fifteen years and we should cut this guy some slack. I told him that I had a B.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice and I knew just what I was doing, thank you very much.

So, dear readers, when I got back to the depot I checked one of the notices on the wall at the counter where we get our bus numbers issued.  Yep, there was a notice up about the scumbag.  I had twigged about this when the TO called the loser “Robbie”.  Apparently he was still allowed to catch the buses but had been rude to and abusive to many bus drivers in the past. If he caused us problems of any sort, we were to call Comms and they would get the TOs onto it.  It was, of course, lovely of the Good Samaritan to offer assistance, but Old Mate’s photo was clearly not on the depot wall because he was a nice guy.  One of the other drivers I spoke to said this particular ratgbag had spat on him, thrown a half full can of beer at him and sworn at him, and now when that particular driver pulls up to a stop and Robert (the scumbag) was there he would point blank refuse him travel on his bus.

That was yesterday. Today I got allocated my bus and just as I was about to depart the depot on my first trip, I noticed that there was a warning light on the dash, and the dash was very hot to touch. I called Comms and they advised me to wait for the TOs to come and look at my bus.  They got there reasonably quickly and told me that I had to get another bus as this one was overheating. Since the top temperature was 37 degrees Celsius today, I thought it prudent to swap the bus out and get one that was not going to break down on the side of the road.  Anyway, I toddled along on my merry way, having been advised by Comms to run late. Yay. Starting my first run 17 minutes late is never on my list of fun things to do in a work day.

I hit the ground running and headed off on the route 10 that I was doing. One bloke commented that I was early. “No, I’m seventeen minutes late, but hop on and enjoy the air con”, I told him.  I gave old Fangio a run for his money and floored it round the route, picking up a few passengers here and there, and then I stopped at one particular stop and a few people got on, and one girl said to me “I don’t think I should have to pay”.  I was very taken aback and had no idea what she was on about.  I thought to myself,  hang on a minute here. Does the world owe you a favour?… “I’m sorry but yes, you DO have to pay” I told her. She then told me, in a very disgruntled tone, that the 9.20am bus didn’t come. I informed her that this was the 9.20 bus. She huffed and puffed and scanned her MyWay card and stomped up the back of the bus. I mean, what did she think I was doing? Sitting round the corner eating coffee and donuts?  I’m sure she was on the phone complaining about me before her arse hit the seat.  Anyway. Time will tell about that one!  I was VERY tempted to drive nice and slow just to piss her off, but I resisted that urge, simply because it would have inconvenienced me as much as it would her.


As I was driving along, I mentally processed the interaction and had decided to talk to her when she got off the bus and possibly offer an apology (mind you… only possibly). For what I wasn’t sure – me being late? Me having a shocked and annoyed tone of voice when I told her that no, she would have to pay?  Anyway. When she went to get off the bus, I motioned that I wan6ted to speak to her. With her headphones stuffed into her ears, which I always think is rude when someone is trying to talk to you, she said huffily “I’ve got to go. I’m really late for work”.  So I got snubbed big time.  Anyway. She was the one late for work, not me.  I don’t understand how people can cut it so fine to get to work. The bus broke down. There might be a traffic accident. The driver might be sick and a replacement driver is not available. There are many reasons why the bus might be late or might not run at all on that particular service. Call me over-cautious, but I’d rather get the bus that was 30 minutes earlier and have time to allow for contingencies and not stress myself out if my ride didn’t show.   Do you err on the side of caution, readers? Would you be on the earlier bus?

A few weeks ago I picked up a young woman who was obviously concealing something to do with her ticket, so I took it off her and inspected it more closely.  It had expired five hours ago. Now, I’m not known for my patience, and said “this ticket has expired, love! You have to get a new one”.  She then informed me that she had paid for a daily in the morning but the driver had issued a single adult ticket.  I informed her that I had no idea what had transpired on her morning journey, and she would have to purchase a ticket. Perhaps she hadn’t shown the driver her student card.  She informed me that that was very unfair and she had asked for a concession daily and since the adult single ticket was nearly the same price as the concession daily, that should suffice and she should not have to purchase another ticket.  I informed her, once again, that I was sorry but I wasn’t there in the morning, and she needed a valid ticket to travel, and hers was not valid. She purchased a ticket and informed me that I was very rude. I informed her that I thought she was the rude one…

For all I know, she could have picked up a ticket off the bus stop floor.  She could have checked her change and checked her ticket… Like one of my mates said. Does it work like that at Uni, too? She does an assignment and gets good marks and then declines to hand the next one in, informing the tutor that the marks for that assignment should allocate towards her next one and she shouldn’t have to do it?  Yep. Too many people think the world owes them a favour!

4 thoughts on “Excuse me, driver… but I’m not paying!

  1. After what I see on the bus in Brisbane, some people will try anything, but the drivers are really too nice here. If it doesn’t scan or they don’t have the right money, they let them travel anyway.

  2. We certainly have a culture of entitlement here in the States, too. People think the govt owes them the world on a silver platter, and someone to wipe their bum for them. Honestly, I think I might lose faith in mankind if I had to deal w/ some of your passengers. So much scamming and manipulation, trying to see what one can get for free, when an honest service deserves an honest exchange.

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