Monday, May 04, 2009

Brompton takes a bus ride

I recently had a little chat with Trimet on the phone. After my third incidence of bus-driver melt-down over bringing my bike on board -- yes, I am indeed talking about my Brompton foldable -- I felt I had to inform them about their own policies. I received a positive response from the person who took my call when I suggested introducing the topic at their next staff meeting. She sounded completely enthusiastic about the idea and I have no doubt she'll see to it.

As you know, I usually use the MAX train, in combination with my bike. Lately there was some construction going which Tri-met dealt with by providing shuttle buses that ferried passengers past those areas. All the people would disembarked from the train and run over to a waiting bus which then took them to where they could pick up the train again and continue their trip.

To my shock, when I would wheel up to the door of the bus and prepare to fold, I was met with wild protestations from the driver!

Here's a composite of the way it's been going:

Driver: You can't bring that bike on!
Me: It's ok, I'm going to fold it down. [I flip the back wheel under.]
Driver: Nope! Sorry. NO BIKES on the bus.
Me: But wait! [I'm unscrewing the middle bolt.]

It folds way down! [I swing the front wheel to the back.]
Driver: I don't care what it does, NO BIKES ON THE BUS!
Me: What do you mean? [I push the seat all the way down on its post.]

This exact bike has been advertised on the side of tri-met buses! [I'm unscrewing the handlebar hinge.]
Driver: Yeah, well I haven't seen that.
Me: That's because you're always IN the bus. You can only see it if you're outside the bus. [by now I've collapsed it all the way down now, to its foldup size of a large typewriter.]
Driver: OK, so now where do you think you're going to put it?
Me: I'm going to keep it right next to me, just like a baby stroller, only much MUCH smaller.
Driver: Yeah, well what if everybody gets one of those?
Me: That would be a good thing. Tri met wants people to buy these. Really! I'm not making this up! If you call Trimet security right now, they won't come.

In each instance, I boarded the bus anyway. I don't like to be a smarty pants or anything... however..... since I knew without doubt that I was right, I made an exception and flouted authority.

I did not get kicked off. No one called security. But like I said, I later called Tri-Met to inform them of the discrepancy and they said they'd take care of it. Good grief, I don't want to have to do battle every time I board a bus. One driver even said I'd have to put it on the front rack. Can you imagine? That would be like trying to pick up a baby with a forklift.

I guess the drivers don't read about Trimet in the papers. If they did, they would've seen that foldups have been frequently mentioned as a great solution.


At 4:35 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Good for you for not backing down!

At 9:00 PM, Blogger The Alley Cat said...

You know, the first words which come to mind are "stereotypical union members." Some people at the Post Office demonstrate the same type of reasoning. But, truthfully, this is nothing more than black and white authoritarian thinking. I remember public school, another example of unflinching rules, while reading the quote from the bus driver, "what if everybody bought one?" How many times can I remember being told something almost exactly like that? What if everybody was tardy to their appointments? What if everybody thought like you did? What if everybody willingly accepted totalitarianism? Wouldn't that last example be good? I think people of this kind would fit right in.

The irony of people such as the bus driver lies within his response which begs the question that it is wrong for everyone to think the same way on a particular subject, while that same bus driver ignores that a primary function of the rule to which he holds is the enforcement of sameness on a particular subject. Whatever character our society would have once everyone accepted one unexamined rule from one unexamined source, whatever we would become once through the metamorphoses, we know that rules would constitute the core of our community's new character. And though we would no longer look into the intent of a rule, but choose only to obey the letter of it, we would surely be happy, because that too would be a rule.


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