In continuing with my Rhode Island anecdotes, I have a story about RIPTA. RIPTA stands for Rhode Island Public Transit Authority and hence the name, they are the state’s transportation agency. Rhode Island has several ways of transportation including the Trolley. The Trolley bus is a trackless wooden bus fashioned after the older and original trolleys of the 1900s. I take the Trolley to work, first because the stop is half a block away from my house and second because I refuse to pay $200 a month on parking.
This morning was just like any other morning, until I got to the Trolley stop. First, I finally was able to meet one of my neighbors. She is a very pleasant girl from Houston (most neighbors here do not talk to others). Then as we started talking, we noticed the Trolley was running late. Really late by about 10 minutes—this in Trolley terms is significant given that they go by every 20 minutes. Once we got on the Trolley, I noticed we had a new lady driver who was driving a bit—shall we say hurried. To put it in plain terms, the seats on the Trolley are made out of wood and I almost went flying to the back of the bus when she took the first turn.
On the next stop, a fellow Trolley rider got on with his iced latte (which he does every morning), and our lady driver began, on a very loud tone of voice, to lecture and reprimand him for bringing on a drink on the Trolley. She proceeded to say how that was her home for the next 8 hours and how we wouldn’t like it if she came to our houses and spilled coffee all over the floor. After 5 minutes of lecturing, I think we got the point—no drinks on the Trolley. She then continued to say how she was “doing her job”, which our collective answer which was voiced by another Trolley rider was “why are you late?” Her answer was that she had a fellow rider on a wheel chair.
As soon as she answered that, we turned on Thayer Street and voila—a wheelchair rider was waiting at the next stop. Oh boy. Do not get me wrong, I do not mind the wheel chair rider at all, it was the way the driver addressed it. First she pretty much hopped over to where the on-ramp controls were located, then she started talking to the rider (I guess she knew him because she addressed him by his first name). She started lecturing the poor man about how he needed cruise control on his wheel chair and how he almost gave her a heart attack the last time. As he was getting on the ramp to get on the Trolley, she began to scream at the poor man—“Stop, stop…don’t move so fast!!!” The man was not moving fast he was just advancing the wheel chair enough so it will be securely placed on the ramp. Once he got on the bus, she kept on reprimanding the poor man about his wheel chair.
As we continued on our journey, the lady driver almost got into a head-on collision with a Lexus SUV. She was honking at every other car and then it was time for her next stop. Only, she claimed not to see the Trolley stop sign so she didn’t let the people out until way later at a non-Trolley stop. She began to argue “than since she didn’t see the Trolley sign, she will not stop except this one time”, but since she works at RIPTA shouldn’t she know if any stops have been changed??? In any event, the wheel chair driver at this point, I think got fed up and wanted to get off. Coincidentally, a car pulled up next to the Trolley impeding the on-ramp to be lowered. The reaction of the driver was to start honking at the poor car. When the car didn’t acknowledge her boisterous response, the driver got off the Trolley and started to scream at the poor car. Once the wheel chair rider was off, we were off to my stop. I thought I was almost home free.
But no, she then went ahead and started honking some more to the surrounding cars. Cut off another SUV and almost crashed into him, then started to verbally insult the fellow drivers including another bus driver (usually they are friendly to their co-workers). Then finally, some of the most dreadful 20 minutes in my life in Providence came to an end…